SHIP TO SHORE
At the turn of the 20th century, ferries provided a link between the Nyacks and Tarrytown.
Isaac S. Blauvelt launched a regular ferry connection between Nyack and Tarrytown in 1834, and added a second ferry five years later. Travelers paid anywhere from 50 cents for a single foot passenger, to a $1.50 for a two-horse, four-wheel carriage and driver.
Automobile registration in New York rises from one to two million between 1920 and 1927, increasing demand for highways and bridges, and reigniting talk of a new Hudson River crossing to connect Westchester and Rockland counties, which first started in the late 1800s. A new crossing would increase options, which at this time is limited to the Bear Mountain Bridge 25 miles north and the soon-to-be completed George Washington Bridge 19 miles south.
The Rockland-Westchester Hudson River Bridge Authority and the Port of New York Authority debate locations and jurisdiction over the proposed bridge. Plans spark opposition from local residents who conduct protests and block surveyors from advancing work in the Rockland village of Grand View.
WESTCHESTER IS GROWING
Rockland County—with a population under 75,000 and a few hundred farms—remains relatively undeveloped, while Westchester County has a population of more than 573,000, three parkways and four railroad lines.
ESTABLISHING THE AUTHORITY
The New York State Thruway Authority is created to build a superhighway from Buffalo to New York City. In December, the Authority identifies a crossing site between South Nyack and Tarrytown, prompting public protest amid concern the bridge would negatively impact the riverfront communities.
In 1952, although delayed due to steel shortages during the Korean War, construction begins on the new bridge. In South Nyack, more than 100 residences and several commercial properties are razed/relocated to make way for the bridge, decimating the village’s commercial district.
AN EVOLVING PROCESS
1951-1953: The massive size of the originally proposed tied-arch main span resulted in a lack of bidders and, ultimately, the cantilever-truss design built.
THE GRAND OPENING
December 15, 1955 – Governor Averell Harriman is joined by legendary actress and Rockland County resident Helen Hayes and the mayors of Nyack, South Nyack, Suffern, and Tarrytown for the opening of the Tappan Zee Bridge. The bridge carries Interstate 87/287 across the river, virtually completing the Buffalo-to-Bronx mainline. At 3.1 miles long, the Tappan Zee is the longest bridge in New York.
THE MOST FAMOUS DRIVER
One of the most famous drivers to cross the span? Elizabeth Taylor in the 1960 film “BUtterfield 8” for which she won an Oscar.
The Authority removes westbound tollbooths and begins collecting round-trip tolls in the eastbound direction.
On June 8th, 1976 a horse-drawn train of covered wagons crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge en route to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, for the nation’s bicentennial celebration. Fact: 66,000 vehicles carried per day in 1970.
The Authority converts center median section to a lane, creating four eastbound lanes and three lanes traveling west. Eight years later, the Authority installs a movable barrier to provide an extra lane of traffic during morning and evening rush hours.
On December 14th, 1989 more than 70 mercury vapor lights were strung along the top of the main span now form a “necklace” on the bridge. Fact: 112,000 vehicles carried per day in 1990.
The Tappan Zee Bridge is officially renamed the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge.
For the first time, hundreds of bicyclists cross the bridge for a charity fundraiser.
CHECKS & BALANCES
The Authority considers replacing the Tappan Zee due to congestion, on-going maintenance, and escalating repair costs.
THE WAY FORWARD
After years of study, replacement is determined to be more cost-effective than maintaining and repairing the Tappan Zee Bridge. Fact: 134,000 vehicles carried per day in 2000.
THE RIGHT CHOICE
Under the leadership of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, a new twin-span crossing is chosen to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge.
A NEW DAY BEGINS
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo greets workers as construction of the bridge begins.
A PRESIDENTIAL VISIT
President Barack Obama visits the project site.
FIRST SPAN OPENS
In August 2017 the first span of the new structure opens to traffic. Soon thereafter, the 61-year old Tappan Zee Bridge is retired and dismantling operations begin.
SECOND SPAN OPENS
The second span opens to traffic, and the newly-minted Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is dedicated.
Construction of the shared bicycle and pedestrian path, the longest of its kind in the United States, enters its final phase.