Photo of the Week: The building of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge

[Verrazano Narrows], 1963, v1984.1.137; Brooklyn slide collection, v1984.001; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Verrazano Narrows], 1963, v1984.1.137; Brooklyn slide collection, v1984.001; Brooklyn Historical Society.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.  The construction of the bridge began in 1959, the upper deck was finished and opened in November of 1964, and the lower deck was completed five years later in 1969.  It was named after the Italian explorer Giovanni de Verrazano and the body of water over which it spans, the Narrows.

The MTA website describes several interesting facts about the bridge, namely:
Its monumental 693 foot high towers are 1 5/8 inches farther apart at their tops than at their bases because the 4,260 foot distance between them made it necessary to compensate for the earth’s curvature.

The bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it opened and continues to be the prettiest drive in and out of Brooklyn in my opinion. The picture above is not the typical iconic photograph we are accustomed to seeing – if you look closely, you’ll see five (is that a sixth three rows down?) construction workers doing the dangerous work of this huge public works project overseen by Robert Moses.  The Brian Lehrer Show hosted Gay Talese this week to discuss his new book, The Bridge: The Building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and took calls from men who worked on it – fascinating listen.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here.  To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m.

About Julie May

I am the Managing Director of Library & Archives at Brooklyn Historical Society.
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