006-p_59bridge.jpg (68415 bytes) New York Architecture Images-New York Bridges

Queensboro Bridge 59th Street Bridge

  Contemporary black and white images on this page copyright Dave Frieder ( ). Special thanks to Dave Frieder for permission to use images.


Gustav Lindenthal in collaboration with Leffert L. Buck and Henry Hornbostel (designers of the Williamsburg Bridge).


Connects Queens Plaza with mid-town Manhattan




Structural Expressionism


Design Double-decked Cantilever bridge
Longest span 360.27 meters (1,182 feet) (west span)
299.92 meters (984 feet) (east span)
192.024 meters (630 feet) (center span)
Total length 1,135.08 meters (3,724 feet)
Vertical clearance 12 feet (3.6 m) (upper level)


Cantilever Bridge


Type Cantilever   Year Opened 1909
# of Decks 1   # of lanes/tracks 10
Total Length 7449 ft   Main Span Length 1182 west, 984 east
Highway/RR NY-25   Misc Connects Queens Plaza with mid-town Manhattan
Toll None  
Comments This a long bridge that goes over Roosevelt Island, but no exits for it. However at one time trolleys on the bridge did stop at stations with stairs down to the island.
  Queensboro Bridge with Roosevelt Island Tramway in view. View is east.
  Bridge circa 1908
  An iconic shot of the bridge in Woody Allen's Manhattan (1979).


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  Dave Frieder Gallery. Copyright Dave Frieder ( )

The Queensboro Bridge, also known as the 59th Street Bridge, is a cantilever bridge over the East River in New York City that was completed in 1909. It connects the neighborhood of Long Island City in the borough of Queens with Manhattan, passing over Roosevelt Island. It carries New York State Route 25 and once carried NY 24 and NY 25A as well.

The Queensboro Bridge is the westernmost of the four East River spans that carry a route number: NY 25 terminates at the west (Manhattan) side of the bridge. It is commonly called the "59th Street Bridge" by New York City residents because its Manhattan end is located between 59th and 60th Streets.

Serious proposals for a bridge linking Manhattan to Long Island City were first made as early as 1838 and attempts to finance such a bridge were made by a private company beginning in 1867. Its efforts never came to fruition and the company went bankrupt in the 1890s. Successful plans finally came about in 1903 under the city's new Department of Bridges, led by Gustav Lindenthal in collaboration with Leffert L. Buck and Henry Hornbostel, designers of the Williamsburg Bridge. Construction soon began but it would take until 1909 for the bridge to be completed due to delays from the collapse of an incomplete span during a windstorm and from labor unrest (including an attempt to dynamite one span). The bridge opened to the public on March 30, 1909, having cost about $18 million and 50 lives. It was then known as the Blackwell's Island Bridge, from an earlier name for Roosevelt Island. Between 1930 and 1955, there was a vehicular elevator to transport cars and passengers to and from Welfare Island, now known as Roosevelt Island. This was demolished in 1970.

The bridge has two levels. Originally the top level contained two pedestrian walks and two elevated railway tracks (as a spur from the IRT Second Avenue Elevated Line) and the lower deck four motor traffic lanes, and what is now the "outer roadway" and pedestrian walk were two trolley lanes. There was a trolley stop in the middle of the bridge for access to Roosevelt Island. Passengers using the mid-bridge station would transfer to a structure built along side the bridge containing elevators down to street level. The railway would be removed in the late 1930s and early 1940s as well as the 2nd Avenue Elevated Line. The trolley lanes and mid-bridge station were removed in the 1950s, and for the next few decades the bridge carried 11 lanes of automobile traffic.

No tolls are charged for motor vehicles to use the bridge.

The bridge was known as the 59th Street Bridge before WWII.


After years of decay and corrosion, an extensive renovation of the Queensboro Bridge was begun in 1987 and is still in progress, having cost over $300 million.

The upper level of the Queensboro Bridge has four lanes of automobile traffic and provides an excellent view of the bridge's cantilever truss structure and the New York skyline. The lower level has six lanes, the inner four for automobile traffic and the outer two for either automobile traffic or pedestrians and bicycles. The North Outer Roadway was converted into a permanent pedestrian walk and bicycle path in 1999.

The Manhattan approach to the bridge is supported on a series of Guastavino tile vaults which now form the elegant ceiling of the Food Emporium and the restaurant Guastavino's, located under the bridge. Originally, this open air promenade was known as Bridgemarket and was part of Hornbostel's attempt to make the bridge more hospitable in the city.

[edit] Rail tracks
In addition to the two rapid transit tracks, the bridge also had four streetcar tracks. The following Queens lines operated over the bridge:

Queensboro Bridge Local, 1909-1957 (last streetcar line in the city)
Astoria Line, 1910-1939
Steinway Line, 1910-1939
Queens Boulevard Line, 1913-1937
College Point Line, 1910-1925
Corona Line, 1910-1922
One Manhattan line operated over the bridge, the Third Avenue Railway's 42nd Street Crosstown Line from 1910 to 1919.

[edit] In popular culture
In F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway traverse the bridge on their way from Long Island to Manhattan. "The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge," Nick says, "is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world".

Bridge circa 1908In the novel Charlotte's Web, Charlotte refers to the Queensboro Bridge as a sort of human-made spider web.
The bridge is featured (as the 59th Street Bridge) in the title of the Simon and Garfunkel song The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy).
The Queensboro is prominently displayed during the opening credits of the television series Taxi, as a cab (driven by series star Tony Danza) drives across it.
The bridge is the setting for a significant scene in the 2002 movie Spider-Man. In that movie, the Green Goblin throws Mary Jane Watson from the bridge, and Spider-Man must decide between saving her or passengers on the Roosevelt Island tram.
In Ultimate Spider-Man #25, the Green Goblin kidnaps Mary Jane Watson and throws her off the bridge.
The Queensboro Bridge is prominently displayed in anime Red Garden, even sustaining extensive damages due to a battle.
The theme song of the CBS sitcom The King of Queens include the lyrics "Sitting here in traffic on the Queensboro Bridge tonight."
The Queensboro Bridge was used in the thrill ride Kongfrontation at Universal Studios Florida. The ride, based on King Kong, had passengers riding the Roosevelt Island Tramway from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island. A mechanical King Kong attacked the cars while hanging off the Queensboro Bridge.
The 59th Street Bridge was blasted by supervillain Hank Scorpio in The Simpsons episode "You Only Move Twice", in a plot to blackmail the UN.
The Queensboro Bridge plays a key role in the opening and chase sequences in King of New York.
In 1992's Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, a taxi drives Kevin McCallister Macaulay Culkin across the upper deck of the bridge.
The bridge was featured in the 1981 John Carpenter film Escape from New York. The bridge was one of the last intact links to the Manhattan Island prison and was land mined to thwart escape attempts.

An iconic shot of the bridge in Woody Allen's Manhattan (1979).The bridge is seen in the Woody Allen film Manhattan in an iconic visual.
The opening sequence to the animated TV show The Critic recreates the aforementioned Manhattan scene, with the bridge collapsing in the river for comic effect.
The opening sequence in the film New Jack City is set on the bridge, in which Wesley Snipes' character throws a rival off to his death.
Musician David Mead included a song called "Queensboro Bridge" on his 2004 album Indiana.
The Queensboro Bridge was featured in the opening and closing credits of Archie Bunker's Place.
On the album Stillmatic by Queensbridge rapper Nas, the inner-lining features the bridge on many pictures.
Frequently seen in the background from a patio on which episodes of the Food Network show "Boy Meets Grill" featuring NYC chef Bobby Flay are filmed.
In The Game's song "300 Bars and Runnin'" these lyrics are featured: "He got G-Unit wings, throw them off the Queens Bridge"
The Queensboro Bridge was featured in the movie "Turk 182". Graffiti artist, Turk 182 (Jimmy Lynch) played by Timothy Hutton climbs the Queensboro Bridge and spells his tag "Turk 182" in lights.
The Queensboro Bridge lies along the 16th mile of the New York City Marathon race. The long, relatively steep approach climb is considered a pivotal point of the route, causing many runners severe fatigue.