Enjoy local trivia? Then youll have fun with these tidbits
about the worlds most beautiful bridge!
- The Hudson River was originally crossed by Native Americans
in canoes. Later, early Dutch settlers used rowboats.
- George Washington, the father of our country,
actually crossed the Hudson River between Washington Heights
in upper Manhattan and Fort Lee in the Palisades of New Jersey
over two centuries ago, by boat.
newspapers had fun inventing names for the Hudson River bridge,
now called the George Washington Bridge, before it was constructed.
Their suggestions? Gate of Paradise, Bridge of Prosperity, Experiment,
Prohibition, Pride of the Nation, Public, Bistate and Mothers
Bridge! For an enteresting glimpse into the Bridge That Never Was,
- The George Washington Bridge was opened in 1931. It was designed
to have the room and strength to accommodate either a railroad
or a second deck or vehicular traffic. The lower level deck was
opened on August 29, 1962.
- On its first day of operation, 55,523 vehicles, 33,540 pedestrians
and a man named Martin Solomon on a horse named Rubio
crossed the Bridge. On the Bridges 50th anniversary on
October 25, 1981, Mr. Solomon said, The bridge holds very
fond memories for me, for I was a young man then. Give me a horse
and Ill try it again.
- Four giant cables, each three feet in diameter, hold the
Bridge in place. The cables contain 26,424 wires, each thinner
than a pencil. Stretched out, the wires would reach 107,000 miles--nearly
halfway to the moon! That 107,000 miles of cables would
go around the earth about four times at the equator!
- The George Washington Bridges two giant towers are
constructed from 43,000 tons of steel, and top out at 600 feet.
- In 1935, an aviation beacon was installed on top of the New
York tower. It is named the Will RodgersWiley Post Memorial
Beacon, after the popular entertainer and aviator.
- The Little Red Lighthouse made famous in the childrens
book by Hildegarde Swift and Lynn Ward in 1942 is located on
the New York shore near the Bridge. It was built by the Coast
Guard in 1902 to steer grain barges and other vessels away from
the shoals of Jeffreys Hook. It was no longer needed when
navigational lights were put on the bridge. It was saved from
the auction block in 1951 and is under the jurisdiction of the
New York City Parks Department.
1943, the first women toll collectors were hired temporarily
in response to the war effort. They were not police officers
and were replaced by police when World War II ended.
- Also in 1943, the Bridge made its film debut in Ball
of Fire, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper. Many
other films have followed, including How to Marry a Millionaire,
The In-Laws, and Desperately Seeking Susan.
- Since 1948, a 60 x 90 foot American flag has been flown on
major U.S. holidays beneath the arch of the New Jersey tower.
It is the worlds largest free-flying flag.
- The distinguished American composer William Schuman wrote
a musical composition entitled George Washington Bridge
in 1950. Schuman said it was inspired by the impression the Bridge
gave him as he crossed it and observed it at different times
of the day. Schuman wrote, This bridge has had for me an
almost human personality.
- From 1963-1967, civilian toll collectors began replacing
police, who had been assigned to the job since the Bridge opened.
All of those hired to replace police officers in the tollbooths
were female, until 1973, when the job was opened to those of
- The famous diamond necklace or necklace lights
on the cables of the GWB consists of 148 mercury vapor lights.
The lights were added to the Bridge in April 1964, and added
a special glimmer during the 1964-65 Worlds Fair that continues
to this day.
- In the 1960s, a small plane safely landed on the two center
upper level roadways. Luckily for the plane, the median barrier
wasnt added until 1970!
- In 1970, the one-way toll collection system went into effect.
- The George Washington Bridge is the busiest bridge in the
world, accommodating nearly 100 million vehicles each year. In
its first year of operation, it accommodated more than 5.5 million
Trivia courtesy of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
Return to George
Washington Bridge main page
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