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verrazano-narrows bridge

Opened on November 21, 1964, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge celebrates its 50th anniversary this week, so we’re honoring the occasion by looking at some of the statistics, quirks, and interesting bits of info that make up the massive crossing’s history. From parachuting off its tower, to a cameo in Saturday Night Fever, to nearly 22 dozen light bulbs, here are 25 things you may not have know about the bridge.

1. It could have been a tunnel, instead. The original discussion for crossing the Narrows began in 1888 — but that was for a tunnel. After a bridge was proposed and the design nixed, they went back to the tunnel idea, and actually began digging. The abandoned tunnels, which only went 150 feet but still remain, were nicknamed “Hylan’s Holes” after then-Mayor John F. Hylan, who championed the failed project. It went back and forth between tunnel/bridge until talk about a bridge, under the recommendation of Robert Moses, became serious in 1946.

2. It was built in five years. It took 16 years to build the Brooklyn Bridge (completed 81 years before the Verrazano), and one year and 45 days to build the Empire State Building (completed 33 years before the Verrazano).

3. It weighs 1,265,000 tons, making it the world’s heaviest bridge at the time it opened.

4. The cost to build the bridge, in 1964 dollars, was $320 million — which would be around $2.45 billion today.

Verrazano Bridge 1960 Brooklyn

Source: Matthew Proujansky via Wikimedia Commons

5. About 7,000 people were displaced in Bay Ridge to make room for the bridge, including dentist Henry Amen, whose office was leveled, but who found a new one nearby — he is still practicing there today at age 88.

6. The length of its central span, which made it the longest suspension bridge in the world when it opened, is 4,260 feet, the equivalent of just over 14 football fields. It lost that title in 1981, and is currently the eleventh longest in the world; but it’s still the longest in the United States.

7. About 12,000 men worked on its construction, and three men died in falls. Workers walked off the job for four days, demanding safety nets, which they got, and which, afterward, caught and saved three more workers who also fell. None of the workers were invited to the opening; instead they attended a mass for the three victims.

8. Nobody is buried in the structure’s foundation, like they claim in Saturday Night Fever. In the film, the bridge symbolizes freedom and a better life…in Staten Island. The film was released 20 years after the groundbreaking of the bridge — that year, 1959, the population of Staten Island was 220,000; by 1980, it was 352,000, so Tony wasn’t alone in these thoughts.

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photo via tsc nyc marathon

This Sunday, November 2 is the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon–and whether you’re planning to go out and cheer or steer clear of race-related traffic concerns altogether, there’s an extensive list of street closures you might want to get to know. Via the NYPD:

Beginning at midnight on Sunday, November 2, the upper level of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic. At approximately 7 a.m. rolling street closures will commence along the route in preparation for the marathon… Street closures and parking restrictions are expected to cause traffic delays. The use of public transportation is highly recommended.

Below are the Brooklyn roads being affected by closures (see full five borough list here):

  • Dahlgren Place between Verrazano Bridge and 92nd Street (North Bound)
  • 92nd Street between Dahlgren Place and 4th Avenue
  • 4th Avenue between 92nd Street and Flatbush Avenue
  • Flatbush Avenue between 4th Avenue and Lafayette Avenue
  • Brooklyn Queens Expressway (South-bound) between Verrazano Bridge and 79th Street
  • 7th Avenue between 79th Street and 75th Street / Bay Ridge Parkway
  • 7th Avenue between 74th Street and 75th Street
  • 74th Street between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue
  • 6th Avenue between 74th Street and 75th Street
  • Bay Ridge Parkway between 7th Avenue and 4th Avenue
  • 92nd Street between Gatling Place and Fort Hamilton Parkway
  • Fort Hamilton Parkway between 92nd Street and 94th Street
  • 94th Street between Fort Hamilton Parkway and 4th Avenue (North-bound)
  • 4th Avenue between 94th Street and Flatbush Avenue (South-bound)
  • Bedford Avenue between Lafayette Avenue and Nassau Avenue
  • Nassau Avenue between Bedford Ave / Lorimer St and Manhattan Ave
  • Manhattan Avenue between Nassau Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue
  • Greenpoint Avenue between Manhattan Ave and McGuiness Boulevard
  • McGuiness Boulevard between Greenpoint Avenue and 48th Avenue
  • Pulaski Bridge (South-bound)

Police also note the security measures for this year’s event for both runners and spectators, including how to make the day easier on yourself:

Prior to taking their starting positions on Staten Island, runners will be screened and their bags inspected. The New York Road Runners has provided the participants with clear bags to expedite this process. Individuals who require event credentials and special access to secure areas, such as organizers, volunteers and other personnel, have been pre-screened in addition to the physical screening they will receive on Sunday.

Along the course, bags and backpacks may be subject to search. Bag checks and magnetometer screenings will be conducted in the area of the finish line. Spectators can help expedite, if not alleviate some of the security process, by leaving backpacks at home.

If you’re running in this year’s event, good luck!

Photo via TSC New York City Marathon

Source: fawlty128 via flickr.com

The following is a press release from the MTA Press Office:

The Staten Island-bound lower level of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge will be closed from 12:01 a.m. until 6 p.m. Sunday, May 4 for the annual TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour. The upper level of the bridge will remain open in both directions throughout the event.

Motorists should expect delays and allow extra travel time. To hear information about all the Verrazano-Narrow Bridge bike tour closures, call (212) 360-3000.

Other closings at the Verrazano-Narrows will include:

  • Brooklyn-bound lower level of the bridge from 12:01 a.m. until 8 a.m. After 8 a.m. two of three lanes will be open.
  • The Bay Street exit from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • BQE approach (I-278 West) to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • The 92nd Street entrance ramp to the westbound lower level of the bridge from approximately 12:01 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In addition, traffic exiting the Hugh L. Carey (formerly Brooklyn-Battery) Tunnel in Brooklyn will be diverted to Hamilton Avenue between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and the ramp to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge from the FDR Drive will be closed between 8 a.m. and Noon. All Manhattan-bound traffic must exit at 125th Street.

5 Boro Bike Tour

Source: BikeNewYork.org

Attention drivers! There will be a number of street, bridge and highway closures all over the city this Sunday, as the Five Boro Bike Tour takes two-wheeling participants from edge to edge of New York City.

Most relevant to our area is that a portion of the Verrazano-Narrow Bridge will be closed for most of the day, as will the Gowanus Expressway and BQE.

The lower level of the Verrazano Bridge from Brooklyn to Staten Island will be closed from 12:01 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Brooklyn-bound lower level will also close at 12:01 a.m. Two lanes will reopen about 8 a.m. The upper level will be open in both directions.

From 7:45 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., the BQE/ Gowanus Expressway will be closed between BQE – West Entrance Columbia Street and the Verrazano Bridge. Beyond Columbia Street, the Bike Tour’s route is mainly on local streets, though their presence on the BQE also means traffic exiting the Hugh L. Carey (Brooklyn Battery) Tunnel in Brooklyn will be diverted to Hamilton Avenue from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

If you’re planning on driving around any other borough on Sunday, make sure you check with the DOT’s advisory.

Source: Antonio Martínez López / Flickr

Whether by car, bus or subway, getting around in New York City is about to become a little more expensive.

The MTA Board approved the agency’s 2013 budget this morning, which included a set of mass transit, bridge and toll hikes across the metropolitan region.

Find out what the new rates are, and how the MTA’s budget is looking overall.

Source: wallyg via Flickr

Tomorrow, the board of the MTA will cast their votes on raising tolls on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to a whopping $15 – and local pols are fuming.

State Senator Marty Golden, Congressman Michael Grimm and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis issued a joint statement to the board and its chairman, Joe Lhota, urging them to kill the proposal and grant Brooklynites and Staten Islanders a measure of economic relief.

The statement follows a letter sent by the trio on December 13. In it, they wrote:

This proposal will hit the pockets of all New Yorkers who traverse the Verrazano Bridge for the purposes of work, shopping, medical care, family visits, and more. It is just unacceptable that the most expensive bridge in the world, already at $13, has the potential to become more expensive.

… In these difficult economic times, the last thing New Yorkers need is the burden of additional travel expenses. The proposal now before the MTA will further strain the budgets of millions of New York’s families and cause a loss of revenue for countless businesses. This proposal is not only misguided, it is something New Yorkers are not willing to accept.

The current proposal calls for raising the toll $2, from $13 to $15. The increase would be $1.06 for those with E-Z Pass.

The three Republican legislators are not alone. Last month, Democratic Councilman Vincent Gentile stood before the board at its November 28 hearing and blasted the plan. He also demanded that the MTA extend the discount they give to Staten Island residents to Brooklyn residents as well.

The Space Shuttle Enterprise made the journey from John F. Kennedy Airport to New Jersey by barge yesterday, giving Southern Brooklyn residents an unparalleled show of the historic spacecraft.

Tons of our readers took the opportunity to check it out, sending in dozens of dazzling photos as it made its way from the Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, around the Rockaways and passing by Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, Coney Island and under the Verrazano. It looks like we had readers at all points, documenting the voyage.

Bonus points, too, for professional spacecraft photographer (yeah, that’s his job) and Manhattan Beach-native Ben Cooper, who runs his own website at LaunchPhotography.com. Cooper chased the Enterprise point-to-point, from Manhattan Beach to the Verrazano Bridge, capturing some crazy close looking shots with a lens bigger than his head. We had the opportunity to join Cooper for a few shots in Coney Island, where Bites super-reader Elina got us access to the roof of a local co-op. We got some pretty sweet shots from an exclusive angle – so thanks to Elina.

Tomorrow Wednesday, the shuttle departs New Jersey and heads to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. It was rescheduled due to weather.

Check out all the awesome photos of the Enterprise, mostly sent to us by readers.

For those of you who missed the Space Shuttle Enterprise as it flew over Manhattan and Brooklyn strapped to a Boeing 747 in April, don’t despair! Sheepshead Bay and other Brooklyn waterfront communities are being treated to a very special show, as the shuttle makes its way by sea from John F. Kennedy International Airport to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

The journey is actually a five day event, having started this morning and continuing until Tuesday. But the real show for the public is on Sunday, when it travels through Jamaica Bay, around Floyd Bennett Field, underneath the Marine Parkway – Gil Hodges Bridge, past Kingsborough Community College through the Rockaway inlet, around Gravesend Bay and underneath the Verrazano Bridge.

It kicks off on Sunday at 7:45 a.m., as a barge carrying Enterprise will depart JFK Airport, towed by a tugboat, and will travel along the shore of Queens and Brooklyn, passing the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge at 3:30 p.m.; Coney Island at 4:19 p.m.; and under the Verrazano Bridge at 5:34 p.m.

All times are approximate, and depend on tides, rain and wind.

Today at 7:00 a.m., the Enterprise was moved to a spot near the water on the grounds of JFK Airport, rolled on the trailer it was placed atop after being demated from the 747. It stays there until tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. when the Enterprise will be lifted by a crane and placed on a barge over the course of three hours.

On Sunday, it makes the trip noted above, and after passing under the Verrazano Bridge, it heads – gasp! – to Port Elizabeth, NJ, where, well, it just chills for a while. All through Monday, actually. Maybe they want to give the shuttle a bit of appreciation for New York City by making it suffer such an awful fate for a day and a half. Who knows.

Anyway, the journey resumes on Tuesday at 9:15, as the barge and shuttle leave New Jersey, passes the Statue of Liberty at 9:50 a.m., the World Trade Center at 10:40 a.m. and up the Hudson River to the Intrepid Museum at 11:30 a.m.

A crane will lift the shuttle off the barge and onto the flight deck, facing it towards the Hudson River.

The Enterprise will be on exhibit to the public beginning July 19.

Our readers got some fantastic photos of the Space Shuttle Enterprise as it flew over Brooklyn and Manhattan this morning, strapped to the back of a Boeing 747.

The photo above was taken by Ben Cooper, a Manhattan Beach native and Goldstein H.S. alum who has since gone on to a career chasing space vehicles around and snagging the best shots. What a living. We’ll have more on Cooper another day, but you can see more of his Enterprise photos here.

Our other readers sent in a batch of photos from various points around Brooklyn, using anything from professional DSLR cameras to cell phones. You can send your photos of the shuttle to nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

See the photos.

Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons

Shutterbugs – and I mean those of you shutterbugs with really, really good telescopic lenses – get those cameras ready!

Tomorrow morning the Space Shuttle Enterprise will fly over Sheepshead Bay (strapped to a Boeing 747) on its way to its new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum via John F. Kennedy Airport.

The flight, tentatively scheduled between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., will includes doing a couple of tours around the harbor, providing some good potential for sightings on the Brighton Beach – Coney Island boardwalk, as well as Manhattan Beach and Emmons Avenue.

Full details are on Bensonhurst Bean.

Now go get us some photos!

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