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27/07/2011

Williamsburg Bridge, New York City


This is a photo of the Williamsburg Bridge, a suspension bridge in New York City across the East River connecting the Lower East Side of Manhattan at Delancey Street with the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn at Broadway. Construction on the bridge, the second to cross this river, began in 1896,and the bridge opened on December 19, 1903. At the time it was constructed, the Williamsburg Bridge set the record for the longest suspension bridge span on Earth. The record fell in 1924, when the Bear Mountain Bridge was completed.
It is an unconventional structure, as suspension bridges go; though the main span hangs from cables in the usual manner, the side spans leading to the approaches are supported by trusswork, drawing no support from the cables above. The main span of the bridge is 490 m long. The entire bridge is 2,227 m long between cable anchor terminals, and the deck is 36 m wide. The height at the center of the bridge is 41 m and each tower is 102 m; these measurements taken from the river's surface at high water mark.
This bridge and the Manhattan Bridge are the only suspension bridges in New York City that still carry both automobile and rail traffic. In addition to this two-track rail line, connecting the New York City Subway's BMT Nassau Street Line and BMT Jamaica Line, there were once two sets of trolley tracks.
The bridge has been under reconstruction since the 1980s, largely to repair damage caused by decades of deferred maintenance. The bridge was completely shut down to motor vehicle traffic and subway trains on April 12, 1988 after inspectors discovered severe corrosion in a floor beam. The cast iron stairway on the Manhattan side, and the steep ramp from Driggs Avenue on the Williamsburg side to the footwalks, were replaced to allow handicapped access in the 1990s.
A celebration was held on June 22, 2003 to mark the 100th anniversary of the bridge and the area surrounding Continental Army Plaza was filled with musical performers, exhibits on the history of the bridge, and street vendors. Dignitaries marched across the bridge carrying the 45-star American flag used in a game of capture the flag played by workers after the placement of the final cable in June 1902. A truck-sized birthday cake was specially made for the event by Domino Sugar, which had a factory on the East River waterfront near the bridge.
The Williamsburg Bridge was designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2009.

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