Tappan Zee Bridge Coming Down

62-year old cantilever bridge being demolished after the opening of a twin-span cable-stayed bridge.


NEW YORK CITY-  When you boat along the Hudson River or travel along the Interstate into the Big Apple, you will probably see a lot of cranes lining up along both sides of three bridges: a twin-span cable-stayed suspension- looking brand new and modern- and a steel cantilever suspension bridge with deck truss approach spans- empty and appearing to be taken apart. Since October 6th, all traffic has been shifted over to the new bridge, while decommissioning the old one, awaiting it removal. The Tappan Zee Bridge was a 62 year-old bridge built by Emil Praeger, an architect whose credits also include the construction of the Henry Hudson, Throgs Neck and Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Bridges all in New York, plus Pier 57 and Shea Stadium in New York and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, to name a few. The total length of the bridge was 16,100 feet (3.4 miles)/ 4.9 kilometers,  with the cantilever span was 1212 feet (369 meters).  The truss spans were all Warren with riveted connections; the portal and strut bracings were V-laced. After 58 years plus daily traffic jams causing wear and tear on the structure, construction started on the new bridge 2013. Despite delays due to weather and contract disputes, north-west bound traffic began using the new north span on August 25 of this year; the south-east bound traffic then joined onto the bridge on October 6. At the present time, the south bridge is in the process of being built with plans of completion being slated in June of next year. By the time the twin spans are open, they will be one of the widest bridges in the world, with a width of 184 feet per bridge and having four lanes in each direction, one in each direction more than its predecessor. The bridge has been named after former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. As for the Tappan Zee Bridge, the bridge is being demolished. Sections of the spans are scheduled to be reused, whereas the rest of the bridge will be recycled for reuse. The removal is expected to be completed at the same time of the completion of the project in June.

One pontist, Dan Murphy has been documenting the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge and after receiving agreement for the use of his photos, we’re presenting a gallery, illustrating the process of dismantling the 1955 span. When looking at the photos, note the cross-section of the spans being removed. The bridge was unique for its extensive use of steel for construction and hence the web-shaped steel connections, which contributed to holding hundreds of thousands of cars crossing the bridge on a daily basis.

Enjoy the photos but think about the legacy of the girl that served New York well- one that will soon become a memory.




The new bridges still carry the Interstates 87 and 287 as well as the New York Thruway, all of which go through the northern sections of New York City, careening Manhattan and going through the Bronx and Queens. Attempts are being made to carry over the Tappan Zee name onto the Cuomo spans as a way of continuing its legacy. Whether this will be successful remains to be seen. See the details here.


Author’s note: Special Thanks to Dan Murphy for allowing use of his photos for this article.