National Transportation Landmark Recognized for 75 Years of Service
The George Washington Bridge today celebrated its 75th anniversary of service in a ceremony that paid tribute to one of the world’s most visible bridges.
New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine, Fort Lee Mayor Jack Alter, Port Authority officials, local elected officials, community leaders and 20 fourth-grade students from Fort Lee School One and P.S. 132 in the Washington Heights neighborhood in Manhattan took part in a reception where they blew out candles on top of a birthday cake at Fort Lee Historic Park.
One hundred birthday cards were created by students from both schools to honor the bridge will be on display at the George Washington Bridge Bus Station until the end of November.
Governor Corzine said, “The George Washington Bridge is one of the most important stories in this country’s transportation history. Last year more than 107 million vehicles crossed the bridge to and from New Jersey, and these commuters, visitors and transporters greatly contribute to the economic vitality of the state.”
New York Governor George E. Pataki said, “For 75 years the George Washington Bridge has stood watch over the Hudson River, witnessing decades of astounding economic growth within this region. The bridge itself has played such an important role for New York’s development – providing a major artery for commerce, employment opportunities and tourism.”
Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, “As the world’s busiest vehicular bridge and one of the most recognized transportation structures, the George Washington Bridge is the living legacy of designer Othmar H. Ammann. His creation literally paved the way for future transportation engineering concepts and provided a model for the Port Authority’s continued mission of identifying and meeting critical transportation needs and combining them with safety, efficiency and high quality.”
Port Authority Vice Chairman Charles A. Gargano said, “The George Washington Bridge was considered a modern marvel in 1931, and 75 years later its presence stands as a dramatic symbol of great engineering innovation. Last year the Port Authority oversaw a $1.7 billion capital investment program that included state-of-good-repair initiatives, which will ensure that all of our facilities, including this landmark bridge, continue to provide safe and efficient service for many years to come.”
Port Authority Executive Director Kenneth J. Ringler Jr. said, “Since 1931, the George Washington Bridge has served billions of people. In its first year of operation, it carried 5.5 million vehicles; today it carries more than 107 million annually, making this structure a vital part of our region’s transportation network, and an important part of our local economy.”
The George Washington Bridge spans the Hudson River between Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood and the borough of Fort Lee, N.J. and also forms part of Interstate 95. It was the world’s longest suspension bridge when it opened to traffic on October 25, 1931. Today, it carries the distinction of being the world’s only 14-lane suspension bridge.
In 1981, the George Washington Bridge was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. It also has been recognized with numerous other engineering, architectural and design awards throughout its 75-year history.
The George Washington Bridge is home to the world’s largest free-flying American flag. The original flag was removed in 2000 to accommodate an extensive painting project, which was completed in August. In 2001, the flag was restored for one week following the attacks on 9/11. That flag was retired, but last month, the Port Authority installed a new 450-pound, 60-by-90-foot flag, which flew from the New Jersey tower for three days last month to honor the victims of September 11, 2001.
The banks on either side of the George Washington Bridge were critical locations during the American Revolution in the fall of 1776. The bridge’s namesake, U.S. President and Revolutionary War General George Washington, commanded two key defensive positions high atop the Hudson River called Fort Washington, located in present-day Washington Heights, and Fort Constitution (later named Fort Lee), which is in the town of Fort Lee.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates many of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro airports; AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark; the George Washington Bridge and Bus Station; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) rapid-transit system; the Port Authority-Downtown Manhattan Heliport; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook Container Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.
The Port Authority is financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.