The George Washington Bridge Was Going To Have Its Steel Towers Covered In Stone
The George Washington Bridge seen here during construction in 1930, was built from 1927 until 1931. Architect Cass Gilbert intended its towers to be sheathed in stone. Still visible on the towers are the hooks for which the stone was to be attached.
It was decided for practical reasons that the bridge towers did not need to be encased in stone. The Depression hit soon after construction started and the cost of procuring and installing the stone would have been prohibitive. The designers and builders reevaluated the whole look of the bridge and felt that there was a natural beauty in showing the function through the form of the exposed naked steel.
The bridge’s chief designer and engineer Othmar Ammann had incredible foresight. Though the bridge had only one level when originally constructed, the design he came up with allowed for the eventual addition of a lower level which was added in 1962. This increased the number of traffic lanes from eight to fourteen. Morning and evening rush hours can create delays of one hour or longer. Can you imagine what the delays would be like without the second deck?
12 other interesting facts about the George Washington Bridge:
1. When completed in 1931 the George Washington was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It was eventually displaced as the longest bridge by San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in 1937.
2. The bridge was completed eight months ahead of schedule and under budget.
3. To finance the bridge, the states of New York and New Jersey each advanced $5 million and $50 million in bonds were issued.
4. Tolls were set to pay off the bonds, which would mature serially starting in 1953. It was assumed after paying off the bond holders, the tolls would eventually be reduced or even eliminated. (Hah!) Continue reading