Verrazano-Narrows Bridge 50th Anniversary Celebration Kicks Off With Staten Island Historical Society Exhibit
August 19th, 2014
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge's almost 50-year history is a visually stunning one. And, what better way to kick off the span's silver anniversary than with an exhibit of historic photographs and artifacts? That's just what MTA Bridge and Tunnel officials did on Tuesday at the Staten Island Historical Society in Historic Richmond Town.
Bridges and Tunnels Executive Vice President and Chief of Operations James Fortunato, Deputy Chief Engineer Aris Stathopoulos, Vice President of Operations Patrick Parisi, Facility Engineer David Riggs and Director of Bridges South William McCann, were on hand to answer questions and detail some of the planned events surrounding 50th celebration of the bridge, which opened to traffic on Nov. 21, 1964. The lower level was opened on June 28, 1969.
“The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is a critical economic and transportation link in the region and we are proud to kick-off the 50th anniversary with this exhibit,” said Fortunato. “We invite everyone to come to the museum, view this exhibit and get a better understanding of all that went into building this important structure, which not only links the boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island but is a vital interstate hub.”
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which was the longest suspension span in the world when it opened, remains the longest in the United States, spanning 9,865 feet.
The exhibit, “Spanning the Narrows for Five Decades,” runs through the end of the year. “We are delighted to be partnering with the MTA to celebrate this milestone in the history of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge,” said Executive Director of Historic Richmond Town Ed Wiseman. “The bridge was an amazing feat of engineering when it was built in the 1960s, and still today it is one of the most iconic and recognizable symbols of Staten Island.”
In addition to historic photographs detailing the bridge’s construction, there will be an array of artifacts including a section of cable, the Opening Day program and one of the original medals given to all contractors who helped build the bridge.
A similar exhibit will open at the New York City Transit Museum in Brooklyn this fall at a date still to be determined. In conjunction with the anniversary, author Gay Talese is reissuing “The Bridge,” detailing the stories of the workers who helped build the span. Events with the author, including a book signing, and discussion, are planned at the Transit Museum.
On Nov. 21, MTA officials will hold a ceremony with elected officials and other dignitaries at the Overlook in Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island. United States Post Office officials will officially unveil an express mail stamp commemorating the bridge’s 50th anniversary. A regular U.S. mail stamp was issued in 1964, celebrating the bridge’s opening. Other events will include a 50-shot cannon salute by U.S. Army officials, 25 fired from each side of the bridge, and a fire boat water display in New York Bay by the New York City Fire Department. The public is invited to view the fire boat display from Arthur Von Briesen Park in Staten Island and Shore Road Park in Brooklyn.
In addition, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge’s official 50th anniversary logo will also be prominently displayed on banners and other locations for the Nov. 2 New York City Marathon where the bridge has served as the race starting point since 1976. Other events, which may include a school art competition, are still being planned.