Located approximately halfway across the river, this overlook focuses on the historical connection and modes of transportation between the villages of Nyack and Tarrytown before, during and after the Tappan Zee Bridge. The canopies of this overlook were inspired by the lattice construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge, and the openings in the benches mimic the access openings used to install the thousands of rivets holding the lattice pieces together. These two structures “shake hands” near the midpoint of the river, celebrating the connectivity between the Nyacks and Tarrytown.
ELEVATION OVER WATER AT THIS POINT
APPROXIMATE MILE MARKER
The River That
Flows Both Ways
The 315-mile-long Hudson River originates in Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondack Mountains, and empties into the Atlantic Ocean, passing through one of the world’s largest and busiest deep-water harbors. Because its current changes direction with the tide, Native Americans called it Muhheakantuck (Mushakantick), “the river that flows two ways.”
SHIP TO SHORE
Isaac S. Blauvelt, a member of a prominent Dutch family that came to the New World from Holland in 1683, established a regular ferry connection between Nyack and Tarrytown in 1834. His boat was called the Donkey, an anglicized version of the Dutch phrase "Dank Ya" (thank you). Travelers on the second ferry to offer service, which began operation in 1839, paid anywhere from 50 cents for a single foot passenger, to a $1.50 for a two-horse, four-wheel carriage and driver. During the next 100 years, while ferry service continued, plentiful road and rail connections to New York City helped Westchester grow into a sizeable commuter suburb. Rockland County remained relatively isolated, however, from the suburbanization that was transforming many parts of the United States.
A NEW BRIDGE
After the Second World War, increased automobile use by a growing population led to a consensus that a new bridge was needed north of Manhattan. In fact, a bridge linking Rockland and Westchester counties had been a matter of lively and sometimes contentious discussion since the 1930s. A number of sites were considered over the years but, ultimately, the South Nyack/Tarrytown location was selected, in part to avoid sharing toll revenue with New Jersey. However, conditions under the Hudson River at this site presented an engineering challenge: how to support the massive foundations needed to span the shipping channel when bedrock remained out of reach at a depth of some 250 feet.
Keep On Rolling
The Tappan Zee Bridge created an important new gateway to the scenic Hudson Valley, carrying 18,000 cars a day in its first year. By 1966, that number had doubled and continued to increase, prompted by the growth of suburbanization and automobile use. Innovations such as a movable barrier in 1992, known as “The Zipper,” created four lanes where there were three to relieve rush hour traffic congestion. But by 2011, with daily traffic volume at 140,000 vehicles — far more than the bridge was intended to carry — the Tappan Zee was nearing the end of its useful service life. Heavy traffic, narrow lanes, and a lack of emergency shoulders combined with high maintenance costs made it clear that replacement rather than rehabilitation would be the most cost-effective solution.
Tradition and Transformation
From the day it opened in December 1955 as the final link in the 570-mile New York State Thruway system, the Tappan Zee Bridge has stimulated significant economic growth on both sides of the river. Its impact was most dramatic in Rockland County, whose population increased 50 percent in the first five years after the bridge opened. Within 10 years, 500,000 square feet of industrial space was under construction to satisfy the demands of businesses and manufacturing companies that flocked across the new span. By 1959 in Westchester County, Tarrytown saw more than $400 million in new construction (in today's dollars) for some of America’s largest corporations as well as residential developments.
REPAIR AN OLD BRIDGE OR BUILD A NEW ONE?
By 2011, the Tappan Zee was nearing the end of its useful service life. Heavy traffic, narrow lanes, and a lack of emergency shoulders combined with high maintenance costs made it clear that replacement rather than rehabilitation would be the most cost-effective solution.
A NEW LANDMARK FOR A HISTORIC RIVER
At the time of construction, the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge was the single largest bridge construction project in New York’s history. And, at three miles, the twin-span cable-stayed bridge is New York’s longest. Its sensors and instrumentation to monitor wind speed, traffic volume and weight, temperature and seismic conditions, make it one of the most technologically advanced river crossings in the country.
Each span of the crossing includes four general traffic lanes, a bus lane, and emergency shoulders. The bridge was built with the capacity to accommodate commuter rail between the two spans in the future. Plus, for the very first time, cyclists and pedestrians can cross the river on a shared-use path.