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The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge

By Dan Brenner

Posted on July 17, 2019

C.M. Tacopina, [Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, Construction], 1963, Color slide, v1984.1.154; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Designed by Swiss-American engineer Othmar H. Ammann, the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge was built between 1959 and 1964. It is the longest suspension bridge in North America as well as the eleventh longest in the world. Totaling 4,260 in length across New York Harbor, it crosses the Narrows waterway from the shore lines of Fort Hamilton in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bay Ridge to Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island. The bridge is named after sixteenth-century Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, the first documented European explorer to enter New York Bay in 1524.

The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge revolutionized travel throughout Greater New York. Before opening day on November 21, 1964, the only connection from Staten Island to the other boroughs of New York was by way of the Staten Island Ferry, which inevitably could not sustain the growing number of people traveling across the Narrows to Manhattan. The first few months saw over one million cars use the bridge. Due to the on-swell of automobile traffic over the next few years, the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) added a lower level in March 1969.

Due to a discrepancy in the spelling of Verrazzano, when Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed the bill authorizing the bridge’s name, it was spelled using only one “z.” In October 2018, the New York State Senate signed a bill authorizing the change to the correct spelling of Verrazzano with two “z’s.”

Fun Fact: In the fifty-five years since it’s opening, the toll to cross the bridge has gradually increased from just fifty cents in 1965 to its current amount of nineteen dollars, making the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge toll one of the most expensive in the country!

This image comes from the Brooklyn slide collection (v1984.001). For more information please see our finding aid here.

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. [email protected].

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