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TZ Bridge Blog: Happy Birthday, Tappan Zee Bridge!
Posted December 15th, 2013

You look remarkably good for 58, although truth be told, the past six years of deck replacements haven’t hurt. Even that movable barrier back in the early 1990s, when you were under 40, helped. No matter that the clock is ticking towards your demise; you’ll make it to 60, a ripe old bridge age.

Tappan Zee Bridge/Courtesy of Severin St. Martin

Tappan Zee Bridge/Courtesy of Severin St. Martin

That’s 10 years more than your then-projected life span; some younger bridges aren’t doing as well. About two weeks ago, the North Carolina DOT closed the 50-year-old, 2.5 mile, Herbert C. Bonner Bridge on N.C. 12 over the Oregon Inlet, the only highway connection between Hatteras Island and mainland NC. Happy birthday, Tappan Zee Bridge!

Still looking good in photo ops, like with members of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels flight demonstration team, which flew down the Hudson River to become familiar with local airspace in prep for an upcoming Memorial Day weekend appearance. Did you remember when a horse-drawn train of covered wagons crossed you on the way to Valley Forge, PA, for the bicentennial celebration?

You carry a heavy load, nearly 40 percent more vehicles daily than the 100,000 originally anticipated, and show signs of wear, so the state’s replacing you. When the new bridge is finished, even your toll plaza in Tarrytown will have a new look.

What a way to spend your birthday — activity going on around you and under you. It was only yesterday that construction began (March 1952), and then you opened for traffic on December 15, 1955: a bridge across the Hudson River, where formerly ferries crossed — connecting I-87 northbound from New York City to Albany. Later, you were connected to I-287 (Cross Westchester Expressway).

Legislation signed by Governor W. Averell Harriman on February 28, 1956, officially named you the Tappan Zee Bridge. You were rededicated, and got a longer name, when Governor Malcolm Wilson was added in 1994 — the 20th anniversary of his leaving the governor’s office — yet his name is rarely used together with yours.

Did anyone recognize your eligibility for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (under Criteria A and C in Appendix D – Preliminary Section 106 and 4(f) Analysis for Tappan Zee Bridge)? Or that the purportedly-100-year-old wood barge and its coal cargo submerged below you – reminiscent of the river’s role in industry and commerce, and in the construction zone – are recommended for that same prestigious award?

You certainly got lots of negative attention during your nearly six decades, so why not an accolade? And lest you think we’ll forget you, not to worry. Cameras have been snapping you left and right, and memories last forever.

Reporter Janie Rosman blogs about the Tappan Zee Bridge at Contact her at or Twitter: nykeypad.

One Response to TZ Bridge Blog: Happy Birthday, Tappan Zee Bridge!

  1. Pingback: TZ Bridge Blog: Happy Birthday, Tappan Zee Bridge! – Rockland County Times | Hudson High School

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