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PR- 502-10
December 8, 2010


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the City will propose legislation to rename the Queensboro Bridge as the “Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge,” in honor of former Mayor Edward I. Koch. The bridge lies within the boundaries of the congressional districts represented by Mayor Koch when he served in U.S. House of Representatives from 1969 to 1977, representing New York’s then 17th and 18th Congressional Districts. When Mayor Koch assumed office, the Queensboro Bridge had reached near-critical condition, with corrosion throughout the bridge, closed outer roadways because they were no longer safe to use, and much of the bridge had not been inspected in nearly a decade, all due to a lack of funding. Mayor Koch invested in the Queensboro, starting its first major rehabilitation and bringing the bridge into a state of good repair, similar to the efforts he began on the rest of the City’s bridges. Originally named the Blackwell’s Island Bridge, the two-decked Queensboro Bridge is a cantilever bridge that carries more than 175,000 motorists every day and connects 59th Street in Manhattan and Long Island City in Queens, offering views of midtown Manhattan, highlighted by the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and the United Nations. The bridge is owned and operated by the City and passage of a Local Law is required for a name change. All sign replacements will be paid for with private donations raised through the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. The Mayor announced the plans to rename the bridge at a reception at Gracie Mansion in honor of Mayor Koch’s 86th birthday.

“Like Ed Koch, the bridge is a resilient, hardworking New York City icon that’s been bringing people together for a long time – and will probably outlast us all,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

“Over 40 years ago, the Queensboro Bridge had Simon and Garfunkel feelin’ groovy and today there is no one in our city groovier than Ed Koch,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “And there is no one more deserving in our five boroughs of this great and timeless honor.”

Mayor Koch played a critical role in saving the City’s bridges. When he took office, the City had no capital program to repair transportation infrastructure – an impact of the 1970’s fiscal crisis. Despite extremely difficult fiscal circumstances, Mayor Koch re-started the Department of Transportation’s capital program and began the work of rebuilding the City’s transportation infrastructure that Mayor Bloomberg continues today. The City’s East River bridges, including the Queensboro Bridge, had been turned over the New York State for stewardship, as the City was no longer able to maintain the structures. Under Mayor Koch, the City regained control of the bridges and began repairing them. Mayor Koch created the Bureau of Bridges within the Department of Transportation and fully funded the bureau. Previously, bridges were considered an afterthought to highway work and had fallen into a state of disrepair citywide. The City has reduced the number of bridges in poor condition from 74 in 1986 to zero bridges used by vehicles today, due to the work of the bureau founded and funded by Mayor Koch.

Often referred to as the 59th Street Bridge, the Queensboro Bridge was opened to traffic on March 30, 1909. The bridge’s construction began in 1901, as a collaboration between bridge engineer Gustav Lindenthal and architect Henry Hornboste, with 75,000 tons of steel going into the original bridge and its approaches. The original cost of construction was approximately $18 million, including $4.6 million for land purchases. At the time of completion, it was the longest cantilever bridge in the United States.

The Queensboro Bridge is the only one of the four East River Bridges that is not a suspension bridge. The length of the main bridge is 3,725 feet, the longest of the East River Bridges. The overall length of the bridge, including the Manhattan and Queens approaches, is 7,449 feet.


Stu Loeser / Marc La Vorgna   (212) 788-2958

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