Erected in the early 1900s, the Queensboro Bridge is a historic structure that carries vehicles and people over the East River in New York City. Spanning more than 1,000 feet, this iconic cantilever bridge directly links Manhattan and Queens. In 2011, it was officially renamed the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge in honor of one of NYC’s most charismatic mayors of the 20th century. Click to book your Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn bus tour.
History and Queensboro Bridge Facts
Construction of the Queensboro Bridge began in 1901 as part of a major infrastructure expansion of New York City, which had absorbed several boroughs just a few years before. Gustav Lindenthal was the chief civil engineer for this major project. Henry Hornbostel was hired as the main architect for this new crossing over the East River. The Beaux-Arts style was incorporated into some components of the cantilever trusses
In the summer of 1909, the Queensboro Bridge was ready to accommodate pedestrians and other forms of traffic. Of course, motorized vehicles have yet to dominate the transportation system of NYC or other major cities nationwide. Several elevated rail tracks were built to accommodate the growing rapid transit network of the city. During the Great Depression, elevators were set up to connect the bridge with Roosevelt Island. A few decades later, the elevators were shut down as the island became accessible via another bridge.
Throughout the decades, the New York City Department of Transportation has managed the Queensboro Bridge. Hundreds of millions of dollars were invested into major renovations of the structure in the 1990s. Today, the bridge carries more than 170,000 vehicles on a daily basis. Thousands of pedestrians and cyclists also cross the bridge each day for work and recreation.
In 2011, the historic crossing was named after Ed Koch, who served three terms as the mayor of NYC. The beloved leader passed away two years after the renaming of the bridge in his honor.
If you’d like to admire the architecture of the Queensboro Bridge, there are several riverfront points that offer great views. For example, Sutton Place Park North is situated near the Manhattan side of the crossing. Queensbridge Park is located on the Queen’s side of the bridge.
If you want to enjoy aerial views of the Queensboro Bridge, take a ride on the Roosevelt Island Tramway. Part of NYC’s public transportation system, this tramway goes between Roosevelt Island and Manhattan. Additionally, private helicopter tours that originate in Lower Manhattan offer quick flights over the East River.
Visiting Queensboro Bridge
New York State Route 25 officially runs over the Queensboro Bridge. Extending for more than 100 miles, this highway is one of the longest on Long Island, New York. The eastern terminal of the bridge is located in the Long Island City district of Queens. The bridge enters Midtown Manhattan in the Murray Hill neighborhood. Unlike most water crossings in New York City, the Queensboro Bridge doesn’t have any toll fees.
Roosevelt Island supports the mid-span of this historic structure. However, the island isn’t directly accessible from the bridge. Having four lanes on the upper deck and five lanes on the lower level, the Queensboro Bridge accommodates commuters in passenger and commercial vehicles. The NYC DOT often blocks multiple lanes for important construction and other projects, but traffic flow isn’t significantly hindered.
The exit and entrance ramps of the bridge are relatively short in length, so traffic congestion in the surrounding residential streets can be an issue during rush hour. Therefore, drivers are encouraged to check the conditions in the Queens Plaza area and Murray Hill before attempting to cross over the East River.
Click here for more information on Queensboro Bridge.