MTA's Scenic Henry Hudson Bridge Turns 75 Years

The Henry Hudson Bridge, connecting the northern tip of Manhattan to the Riverdale section of the Bronx, turns 75 on Monday, Dec. 12th.

A month-long photo exhibit, hosted by the Riverdale Public Library, will open on Dec. 12th.  The exhibit will include more than a dozen photographs from Bridges and Tunnels' extensive Depression-era collection.  It will include a section for schoolchildren, focusing on different types of bridges and the building of the Henry Hudson, and another geared to the community before the bridge was built.

"We are pleased to share some of the thousands of historic photos from our Special Archive in celebration of the Henry Hudson Bridge," said MTA Bridges and Tunnels President Jim Ferrara. "The Henry Hudson was originally designed for leisurely weekend drives but through the decades has evolved into a vital transportation connection in the tri-state region, linking New York City and the northern suburbs."

The Henry Hudson, at 800-feet, was the world's longest plate-girder, fixed arch bridge when it opened in December 1936, just five months after MTA Bridges and Tunnels' flagship Triborough Bridge (now the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge) began operating. 

Then City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses wanted the bridge built as part of his West Side improvement project and envisioned a parkway that would allow cars to drive from the Battery to the Bronx without getting caught in 11th Avenue's jumble of railroad trains and horses.

Moses knew the bridge would be popular because of its scenic views of the Hudson River and the Palisades to the west as well as the freedom it offered from Broadway Bridge's congestion, and had it built to support a second deck. The three-lane, upper level of the bridge, which carries traffic north to the Bronx, opened 18 months later on May 7, 1938. The total cost of the bridge for both levels was $5 million.

Today an average 63,000 cars use the bridge daily. An $86 million rehabilitation project that included replacing the original Depression-era lower level, Manhattan-bound roadway, the entire North approach structure at the Bronx end of the bridge, and refurbishing the pedestrian walkway was completed in June 2010 and another three-year, $33 million project is underway to replace the original 1930s steel curb stringers that support the upper level roadway.

The first phase of the pilot program to test all-electronic tolling at the Henry Hudson Bridge began in January when gate arms were removed from E-ZPass lanes.  In spring 2012, cash will be entirely eliminated from the toll plaza, and the bridge will become one of the first urban all-electronic tolling (cashless) bridges in the nation. Under cashless operations, drivers who go through the toll plaza without an E-ZPass will receive mailed invoices based on license plate images.

MTA's Scenic Henry Hudson Bridge Turns 75 Years

HH RAS 6.19.1936The Henry Hudson Bridge under construction. Photographer: Richard Averill Smith, June 19, 1936.

MTA's Scenic Henry Hudson Bridge Turns 75 Years

HH Construction 1936: Looking from the Bronx, the final crown piece is placed at the center of the plate-girder, steel arch. New York Central Railroad tracks (now Metro-North) continued operating during construction. The small railroad bridge in the distance belonged to Grand Central Railroad and today is used by Amtrak. Photographer: unknown. July 8, 1936.

MTA's Scenic Henry Hudson Bridge Turns 75 Years

HH-3408D: View of Henry Hudson Parkway, looking north, in Riverdale. c. 1934. Photographer: unknown.

MTA's Scenic Henry Hudson Bridge Turns 75 Years

HH from above: Present day aerial view of Henry Hudson Bridge.