The George Washington Bridge as seen from 179th Street – 1934
This is the way the George Washington Bridge looked in 1934, three years after opening in 1931 from the New York side. The changes that have occurred in the past 80 years are abundant. This view was photographed from between West 178th and 179th Streets.
Before finding this photograph I had always wondered what the George Washington Bridge looked like before several changes occurred to the original layout. The construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway / Alexander Hamilton Bridge connection; the addition of the lower level to the bridge; and the Port Authority bus depot; all in the early 1960s, changed the original roadway approach and exit configuration.
The light traffic is indicative of the era. A total of 6,148,876 vehicles crossed the bridge in 1934. Today over 114 million vehicles make the crossing.
What else has changed?
The open graceful curved streets leading to the Henry Hudson Parkway are reminiscent of grand boulevards. Now the streets have been reconfigured and covered by overpasses. Many of the apartment buildings adjacent to the bridge remain, but all the lampposts have been replaced.
On the bridge itself, the center roadway is not open to traffic and the pedestrian and bicycle pathways are laid out differently. Across the bridge on the New Jersey side, the Palisades dominate Fort Lee. There are virtually no structures visible in Fort Lee compared with today as commercial and residential buildings now surround the bridge.