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50th Anniversary of Verrazano Bridge Celebrated in Exhibit

By Nicholas Rizzi | August 20, 2014 10:22am
 The MTA unveiled the exhibit that chronicles the construction of the Verrazano Bridge for its 50th anniversary.
Spanning the Narrows for Five Decades
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RICHMOND TOWN — The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge's 50th birthday is being celebrated with an exhibit chronicling the construction of the span.

The MTA unveiled the exhibit, "Spanning the Narrows for Five Decades," which celebrates the half centennial of the bridge with pictures of its construction, parts that were formerly on the bridge and historic memorabilia from its opening at Historic Richmond Town on Tuesday.

"When the bridge opened 50 years ago, it brought Staten Islanders closer to their fellow New Yorkers," said James Fortunato, Executive Vice President and Chief of Operation for MTA Bridge and Tunnels. "The story of how the bridge is built is as compelling as its legacy."

The MTA collaborated with the Staten Island Historical Society to put together the exhibit, which runs until the end of the year and focuses on pictures from four crucial sections of the construction — the towers, the deck, the cables and the anchorage.

MTA Bridges and Tunnels archivist Mary Hedge combed through around 5,000 historic shots from the bridge to pick out more than two dozen from the construction, including shots of workers on beams installing the cables, the entranceways in Arrochar being paved and designer Othmar Ammann and Robert Moses watching the construction.

Aside from the photos, the exhibit includes a section of the cable wire and rivets used in the bridge, commemorative coins and an exhibit centered on its namesake explorer Giovanni da Verrazano even parking permits from its grand opening on Nov. 21, 1964.

The bridge started construction in 1959 and was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it opened five years later. It still holds the title for longest in the United States.

Everyday, nearly 200,000 vehicles travel between Staten Island and Brooklyn on the bridge and around 66 million vehicles use it every year, said David Riggs, facility engineer for the bridge.

Aside from the exhibit, the MTA said it plans to celebrate the bridge's anniversary on Nov. 21 with a 50 cannon salute, a fireboat display and the unveiling of a commemorative stamp.

"The Verrazano has a special place in our heart," Fortunato said. "For me, the bridge is like a second home."