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On This Day in 1974

On Memorial Day weekend in 1974, the Cross Bay Parkway Bridge was officially renamed the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge.

The bridge was renamed to honor the service men and women who gave their lives and served their country proudly.

Members of the Daniel M. O'Connell American Legion Post 272 from Rockaway Beach were on hand to help mark the occasion. Members walked over the bridge and laid several wreaths on a memorial plaque as then Triborough Bridges and Tunnels President Joseph P. Vermaelen (pictured in raincoat) looked on.

The first bridge to cross Jamaica Bay was a railroad trestle bridge built in 1880. As Rockaway filled with hotels and summer bungalows, Cross Bay Boulevard was built in 1925 with bascule bridges that swung open in an upward direction going over Beach and North Channels.

But within a few years of opening, the four-lane Beach Channel Bridge was choked with traffic and the newly-created New York City Parkway Authority announced plans to improve the approach roads and widen the bridge as part of the city's program to develop Jamaica Bay as a residential and recreational area. A new low-level bascule bridge re-opened to traffic in 1939.

Officials soon learned that that a bascule bridge was expensive to maintain. By the 1960s, the span was being lifted for marine traffic thousands of times each year. The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, now MTA Bridges and Tunnels, began planning an entirely new bridge with a higher clearance over water, allowing tall vessels to pass beneath it without lifting.

Construction on the new six-lane, 3,000-foot long bridge began in August 1967 and opened to traffic on May 28, 1970.

The bridge, which at its center point is 55-feet above mean high water, connects the Rockaway peninsula to the rest of Queens, the Belt Parkway and the Southern State Parkway.  


Photos: Photographer James Heffernan

CB1: Members of Queens American Legion Post 272 march across Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge at 1974 rededication ceremony.

Members of  Queens American Legion Post 272 march across Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge  at 1974 rededication ceremony.

CB2: Wreaths are laid by members of American Legion atop a plaque that remains beneath a flagpole outside the administration building at the bridge. Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority President Joseph P. Vermaelen is to the right in raincoat.

Wreaths are  laid by members of American Legion atop a plaque that remains beneath a  flagpole outside the administration building at the bridge. Triborough Bridge  and Tunnel Authority President Joseph P. Vermaelen is to the right in raincoat.

CB3: Veterans speak at rededication ceremony

Veterans speak  at rededication ceremony

CB4: Relatives of fallen soldiers lay wreaths at rededication ceremony

Relatives of fallen soldiers lay wreaths at rededication ceremony