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What event am I noting today?

September 30, 2015

hellgatebridgepostcardThe Hell Gate Bridge over the East River in New York was opened on September 30, 1916.

The Hell Gate Bridge (originally the New York Connecting Railroad Bridge or The East River Arch Bridge) is a 1,017-foot (310 m)steel through arch railroad bridge in New York City. The bridge crosses the Hell Gate, a strait of the East River, between Astoria in Queens and Randalls and Wards Islands in Manhattan.

The bridge is the largest of three bridges that form the Hell Gate complex. An inverted bowstring truss bridge with four 300-foot (91.4 m) spans crosses the Little Hell Gate (now filled in); and a 350-foot (106.7 m) fixed truss bridge crosses the Bronx Kill (now narrowed by fill). Together with approaches, the bridges are more than 17,000 feet (3.2 mi; 5.2 km) long.

hell gate

This bridge was the inspiration for the design of Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia, which is about 60 percent larger.

The bridge was conceived in the early 1900s to link New York and the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) with New England and the New Haven Railroad (NH).

Construction was overseen by Gustav Lindenthal, whose original design left a gap of 15 feet (4.6 m) between the steel arch and the masonry towers. Fearing that the public assumed that the towers were structurally integral to the bridge, Lindenthal added aesthetic girders between the upper chord of the arch and the towers to make the structure appear more robust. The original plans for the piers on the long approach ramps called for a steel lattice structure. The design was changed to smooth concrete to soothe concerns that asylum inmates on Wards and Randall’s islands would climb the piers to escape.

Hell_Gate_Bridge_1915_Arch_Construction

The engineering was so precise that when the last section of the main span was lifted into place, the final adjustment needed to join everything together was just 12 inch (13 mm). Construction of the Hell Gate Bridge began on March 1, 1912 and ended on September 30, 1916. It was the world’s longest steel arch bridge until the Bayonne Bridge opened in 1931, and was surpassed again by the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932.

During World War II, it was among the dozen or so targets of economic value of significant enough importance to attract the attention of Nazi German sabotage planners. The Nazis’ Operation Pastorius landed German agents on US soil in 1942 in hopes of wrecking the bridge and other key targets. (Operation Pastorius failed due to detection of some landing activity by US shore patrols and subsequent defections among some of the German landing team’s members to the Allied side.)

In the 1990s, the bridge was repainted for the first time since it opened. It was painted a deep red called “Hell Gate Red”. Due to a flaw in the paint, however, the red color began to fade before the work was completed, leading to the bridge’s currently faded, splotchy appearance.

The bridge would be the last New York City bridge to collapse if humans disappeared, taking at least a millennium to do so, according to the February 2005 issue of Discover magazine. Most other bridges would fall in about 300 years.

hell gate lionel

Lionel has a wonderful model of this bridge (which I covet).

The article was copied from Wikipedia because I thought the whole thing was interesting.

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