Standing underneath its massive eastern footing, it's hard not to feel like an ant.  The Queensboro Bridge, officially titled the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge and is colloquially known as the 59th Street Bridge.  Designed by Gustav Lindenthal, Leffert L. Buck and Henry Hornbostel, designers of the Williamsburg Bridge, the Queensboro Bridge was constructed between 1903 and 1909 and cost $18 million and the lives of 50 men.  It opened to vehicle and trolley traffic on June 12, 1909, when it was known as Blackwell's Island Bridge.  Between 1930 and 1955, an elevator allowed vehicles and pedestrians to exit at Welfare Island, which is pretty convenient if you ask us.  The trolley that ran across the bridge was decommissioned on April 7, 1957, the last trolley line in New York City. 

    The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 20, 1978.  If you look across the East River, to the right of the pier is the Terra Cotta House, the head quarters of the now-defunct New York Architectural Terra-Cotta Works.  Constructed almost entirely out of terra-cotta, the house was made to be a showcase of the company's products. 

    To the immediate left of the house is the Silvercup Studios sign, a symbol of the largest film and television production facility in New York City.  Operating out of the old Silvercup Bakery building the company is responsible for shows as diverse as 30 Rock, Mad Men, The Sopranos, and Gossip Girl, and films such as Julie & Julia, The Devil Wears Prada, Highlander, and The Gangs of New York.

    A Pepsi sign, a film studio,  and an entire house made of terra-cotta? Who says the Queens waterfront is dead?

South Tour Stop 11: Queensboro Bridge


Queensboro Bridge

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Marena Wisniewski

Greater Astoria Historical Society

NYC Municipal Archives