The Story of Two Forgotten And Buried New York City Bridges
This is Kings Bridge connecting upper Manhattan to the Bronx and Westchester. The Kings Bridge was originally constructed in 1693 under a grant from the Crown and maintained by the Philipse family as a toll bridge until the revolution.
The toll was collected on every person, animal and vehicle crossing to the mainland excepting the King’s soldiers. At night the rates doubled. The bridge was reconstructed in 1713 and altered slightly a few times in the intervening 200 years.
Incredibly, this quaint early 18th century wooden relic was still in place over the Spuyten Duyvil Creek in the 1900s.
At 19 feet wide and only 68 feet long with 38 foot approaches, the wooden bridge had become obsolete with the building of the filling in of Spuyten Duyvil Creek. The present Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx has no connection with the Kings Bridge. The 1713 reconstructed Kings Bridge was diverted at present day Broadway at about 227th Street and crossed over the original path of Spuyten Duyvil Creek to Kingsbridge Avenue in the Bronx.
In 1908, the Spuyten Duyvil Creek west of the Kings Bridge was filled in. By 1913 the easterly portion of the creek was also filled in which rendered the structure unnecessary. By October of 1913 the planking of Kings Bridge had been removed and stone debris from the nearby refurbished Harlem Ship Canal Bridge was placed over the Kings Bridge to make one solid roadway.
The Commissioner of Bridges turned over jurisdiction of the Kings Bridge to the Borough Presidents of the Bronx and Manhattan. On November 24, the Bronx Borough President took possession of the street that the bridge was located on and by 1916 the bridge was simply covered over. So technically, the Kings Bridge is still in existence – under landfill on Kingsbridge Avenue.
The nearby Farmers Bridge (also called Dykeman’s Bridge, Free Bridge, Queens Bridge) over Spuyten Duyvil Creek had a similar fate. It was located near the swamp and was completed in 1759 by Jacob Dykeman (now spelled Dyckman) on the Manhattan side and Johannes Vermilyea on the Bronx side as a toll saving alternate to the Kings Bridge for the farmers of Westchester County.
The bridge was built without the authority of the Crown and contrary to custom was made free to all travelers. The regrading of Muscoota Street (225th Street) from Broadway connecting to old Kingsbridge Road covered the Farmers Bridge in 1911.
At some point in the future work crews will be doing road repairs and they will stumble upon one or both of these forgotten bridges. Won’t they be surprised!