Posts Tagged ‘Blackwell’s Island Bridge’

The battle over naming the Queensboro Bridge

May 8, 2010

What’s in a name? Plenty, especially among certain factions of New Yorkers at the turn of the last century.

That’s when the city began building a great bridge that would link Manhattan to Queens. City officials planned to name it the Blackwell’s Island Bridge, after the spit of land (now Roosevelt Island) it would skip over in the East River.

But real estate bigwigs from Manhattan and Queens objected; they felt the name had bad connotations. Blackwell’s Island at the time was infamous for its poorhouse and prison.

The real estate guys were afraid New Yorkers would shy away from the bridge—and their neighborhoods—to avoid the unsavory assocation.

On the other hand, many Irish residents were opposed to the Queensboro name because they felt it sounded too British.

The leader of one Irish group even suggested calling it the Montauk Bridge, thinking it had a more American ring to it.

In the end, Queensboro was selected as the official name before the bridge opened in 1909. And it’s stuck ever since.

The Queensboro Bridge: “mystery and beauty”

February 4, 2009

This postcard of the Queensboro Bridge—also known as the 59th Street Bridge or the Blackwell’s Island Bridge in its early years—reveals a structure surrounded by industry and grit. It opened in 1909, linking Manhattan’s East Side to the factories of Long Island City.

queensborobridge

The Queensboro still doesn’t get the appreciation the Brooklyn or Williamsburg Bridges receive. But it has fans who extoll its virtues.

In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that “the city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time in its wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.”

And of course, there’s Simon and Garfunkel’s ode to feelin’ groovy: “The 59th Street Bridge Song.”