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Stony Creek Granite Sites Foundations of America - QU 201 http://www.foundationsofamerica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=55&Itemid=68 Fri, 24 Nov 2017 20:24:36 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Hudson River Bridge http://www.foundationsofamerica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=620:hudson-river-bridge&catid=55:bridges&Itemid=68 http://www.foundationsofamerica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=620:hudson-river-bridge&catid=55:bridges&Itemid=68 reserved for MJLuque

Bridges Tue, 18 Oct 2011 23:12:15 +0000
George Washington Bridge http://www.foundationsofamerica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=426:george-washington-bridge&catid=55:bridges&Itemid=68 http://www.foundationsofamerica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=426:george-washington-bridge&catid=55:bridges&Itemid=68 Since the 1600’s when the first European settlers built their first settlements in the colonies, there had been no way of reaching New York City from New Jersey without taking a ferry over the Hudson River.  It was an issue plaguing both New Jersey and New York officials for almost 300 years.  The governors of New York and New Jersey decided, in 1906, to create an Interstate bridge Commission, whose sole purpose was to build bridges over the Hudson to connect the two states.  The commission spent nearly 20 years reviewing designs and deciding where/how to construct the bridges, finally deciding on a design.  Construction finally began on October 21, 1927 under the direction of Chief Engineer Othmar Ammann.
 Selecting where to build the bridge was difficult.  At first, the original Chief Engineer, Gustav Lindenthal, wanted to build the bridge so that it connected went between New Jersey and Midtown Manhattan.  This choice appeared to be a great idea, as it would allow the rail lines in New Jersey to easily connect to New York City and all of New England.  But, Lindenthal’s apprentice, Othmar Ammann, argued that this was a bad idea, as it would create more commuter traffic and construction in the already very-busy midtown Manhattan.  Ammann thought it would be a better idea to build the bridge between 179th street in upper Manhattan and Fort Lee, NJ.  This location would allow for cars and light rail to travel, but it would also be high enough off the river that large ships could travel underneath.  Ammann also saw this location as more economical, in that they would not need to deal with the businesses of midtown Manhattan.  Although on his own, Ammann got the support of the newly elected governor of New Jersey, Georg Silzer and, in 1925, got approval from both New York and New Jersey to build.  Ammann was the chief engineer and designer.
 With Ammann selected as the chief designer, it wasn’t long before the Port Authority called in the help of Cass Gilbert, a famous architect, to consult and assist in the designing process.  Gilbert had spent much time in Europe, traveling around and soaking in architectural designs he later planned on using in his designs.  It wasn’t until 1895 when Gilbert was selected to design the new capitol building in St. Paul, Minnesota, that his architectural career took off.  Cass Gilbert’s greatest creation was the Woolworth Building in New York City.  Constructed in 1913, it would be the world’s tallest building for over 10 years.  Cass Gilbert would also be responsible for many other important buildings of the 20th century, including the Wall Street Building, the NY County Lawyers Association building and the U.S. Supreme Court Building.
With the approval for the bridge granted, Ammann was posed with a challenge.  The completed Hudson River Bridge would span 3,500 feet, nearly twice the length of the largest main span in the world at the time, The Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, Michigan, which spanned a mere 1,850 feet.  In response, Amman proposed the idea of changing the way suspension bridges are built.  Ammann suggested that by the weight of bridge and traffic combined would be enough to prevent the bridge from rocking during heavy winds without the need for trusses.  However, Ammann decided to design the bridge so a second level of the bridge could be built with trusses, if need may be.
 Two systems of suspension were considered for the Hudson River Bridge.  One, known as the eyebar network, used thin metal bars that are connected at the cables.  The other, known as the spun-cable system, used hundreds of thousands of spun wires that hung over the towers.  Ammann considered both systems to be efficient and effective, so he held a sort of auction for who wanted to construct the bridge, granting it to the lowest bidder, or whoever would perform the construction for cheapest.  The job eventually went to John A Roebling and Sons in 1931 whom used the cable-spun suspension design. 
John A. Roebling, the founder, was the engineer who designed the Brooklyn Bridge, which spanned the East River.  Although he died due to the aftermath of having his foot ran over by a ferry, his son and daughter, Washington and Emily Roebling, continued his work on the Brooklyn Bridge and finished it.  His second son, Ferdinand, expanded on his father’s business in wire rope, although it was his older brother, Washington, who was President of the company once Ammann came with his proposed idea for a bridge spanning the Hudson River.
 With the design of the suspension system decided on, it was time to select how to design the towers from which the cables would be supported.  Ideas spanned from using concrete-encased steel towers to using very thin steel towers.  One of the more popular choices was the idea of using steel towers coated with granite, which would allow for restaurants and observation decks.  Although it made sense to from a business standpoint, public opinion was against the idea, due to the hard economic times of the Great Depression, and Ammann determined the steel towers could sufficiently hold the bridge without assistance.  Ammann also concluded that, without the granite-casing, the bridge itself would cost $1 million less to construct, which would be equivalent to saving $150 million today.
 The Hudson River Bridge made history with being the first construction project in New York to use a building crew entirely made up of professionals.  Since both New York and New Jersey were contributing towards the construction of the bridge, construction went relatively quickly, as there was a competitive spirit between the two states to be finished with their tower first.  The cables were spun in a record 209 working days using only 300 men.
 The bridge was completed on October 25, 1931, 8 months ahead of schedule and only costing $59 Million .  Upon completion, it broke the record for longest main span in the world and held that title until May 27, 1937 with the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Although initially called the Hudson River Bridge, the name was eventually decided on as the George Washington Memorial Bridge, in honor of the United States’ first President, as the bridge was built between Fort Washington and Fort Lee, both of which were fortified positions used by Washington during his failed attempt to prevent the British from occupying NYC during the Revolutionary War.  The Port Authority deemed it a great name, as they saw the bridge to be a dream realized and a testament to the willpower of man; ideals the Port Authority believed Washington stood for.
 After World War II, there was an extreme shortage of housing for the returning veterans.  As such, a plan to create cheap houses in the countryside was set into motion and the suburban housing project was born.  But, unlike the cities, the suburban neighborhoods weren’t usually within walking distance of the workplace of the workers.  The people of America needed a cheap way to reach the cities, and it wasn’t long before cars became the popular choice for those workers.
In response to the booming growth of the car, the Port Authority decided to increase capacity from a six-lane bridge to an eight-lane bridge, but it still wasn’t enough.  As the demand for more lanes became more apparent, the Port Authority and the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority met to discuss further ideas of how to increase traffic flow into Manhattan.  They considered building a bridge at the original site of the Hudson River Bridge, between Midtown Manhattan and New Jersey, but ultimately decided to add another six-lane level to the George Washington Bridge.
 In 1959, construction began for the lower deck of the George Washington Bridge.  As per Ammann’s original design, the lower deck was built with stiffening trusses to keep the lower deck stable from torsion.  One of the more impressive feats of the construction of the lower deck was that there was no need to shut down the upper deck during construction.  The lower deck construction cost $20 million .  To this date, the George Washington Bridge is the only 14-lane suspension bridge in the world.
 In 1977, the George Washington Bridge saw its first major renovation project.  The Port Authority decided it was best to replace the then-concrete deck of the bridge with steel roadway sections.  Each of the roadway sections were created and paved prior to installation, so once they were in place, they would be safe for drivers to use.  Construction was done at night, one lane at a time.  As a result, the bridge would only have one lane of traffic blocked at night and would be fully functional by rush hour.  The project saw one of the first usages of orthotropic deck replacement of a suspension bridge.  An orthotropic deck is a deck which comprises a steel plate which is either stiffened longitudinally or transversely, which allows for both the bearing of vehicular loads and to help the bridge’s overall load-bearing capabilities, making the bridge stronger as a whole.  The project was completed in 1978; merely a year after construction began.
 In 2002, the Port Authority began working on chipping away the old lead-based paint covering the towers and the underside of the upper deck.  In its place, the workers applied a three-coat paint system that would better protect the coloring of the bridge.  The project was completed in 2006, costing $85 million.
 Today, the George Washington Bridge has several tourist features, despite the fact that it was never constructed with granite to incorporate observation decks and restaurants.  The George Washington Bridge was designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in October 24, 1981.  In 2000, the Port Authority completed a project to illuminate the towers of the bridge to honor holidays and other important memorial services, such as on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.  Also, on major Federal holidays, such as President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Columbus Day, the bridge holds the largest free-flying American flag in the world.  The flag, in total, is 90 feet by 60 feet, weighing 450 pounds.
 For more information on the George Washington Bridge, refer to the links below:

Bridges Sat, 11 Dec 2010 00:28:38 +0000
Bulkeley Bridge http://www.foundationsofamerica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=393:bulkeley-bridge&catid=55:bridges&Itemid=68 http://www.foundationsofamerica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=393:bulkeley-bridge&catid=55:bridges&Itemid=68

Overview In 1903 the State of Connecticut began construction on the Bulkeley Bridge to connect Hartford to East Hartford across the Connecticut River. It was named after a former Mayor of Hartford and Senator at the time of its construction Morgan G. Bulkeley. The bridge was proposed to replace a two-lane covered toll bridge that opened in 1818. The 974-foot span carried horse traffic, and in 1890 trolley lines were added, connecting Hartford to East Hartford and Glastonbury. On May 17, 1895, the bridge was destroyed in a raging fire. The legislature looked for a way to replace the old wooden bridge with a more permanent and iconic bridge that would hold up to the elements, honor Connecticut’s heritage, and perhaps most importantly keep Connecticut hiring instate. The costs of construction are estimated at roughly $3 million for the State of Connecticut which adjusted for inflation is the most expensive bridge project in Connecticut history. The bridge opened on Oct. 6, 1908. Its nine spans were 1192 feet long in total. [1] The bridge is currently listed on the United States National Register of Historic places as a heritage site.

Site Location











One of the most prominent architects who worked to plan the site was Edmund Wheelwright who was the city architect for Boston, Massachusetts. Amongst his famous works are the Boston Public Library, the Longfellow Bridge in Boston, the Massachusetts Historical Society Building, and the Boston Museum of Fine Art. He was a fellow of the American Institute for Architects and served on its board sporadically from 1892-1900.

After researching some Ancient European examples the architects and engineer decided that uncomplicated geometry and restrained architectural detailing that the simple design of arched stone bridges contained would create the proper sense of strength, beauty and dignity. (2) The Bridge is the largest stone arch bridge in the world, as soon after the Bridge’s completion concrete and steel became the standard for bridge construction. Not only was it the last of its kind, but also in many ways the Bulkeley Bridge was one of the greatest. Five of its spans are longer than any of the other stone arches in the state. It consisted of 100,000 cubic yards of grey and pink granite from Connecticut’s own quarries; the tolerances for the stone-cutting were exactingly close at less than 3/8" over the whole face of a 10-ton block. [2] This stone was cut by the Stonecutters in the Norcross Bros. Quarry whom were the most skilled and highest paid of all the laborers.

Beyond merely constructing the bridge for traffic purposes, the architects had a vision which included a complete redesign of the entire riverfront property. The government decided to tear down several run down housing projects to give a more open and serene view of the river. When the bridge finally opened in 1908 it was marked with a three-day celebration of parades, speeches, and fireworks, reportedly attended by 250,000 people.

Changes since completion

Until 1942, the Bulkeley was the only motor vehicle bridge across the Connecticut River between Warehouse Point and Middletown, and handled a lot of cross-state traffic: US 5, US 6, and US 44; and earlier routes 17 and 101. This created congestion problems for the emerging motor vehicle demand that was booming around the time of its completion.

Congestion on city streets and the Bulkeley Bridge led the state to build an expressway bypass route and a new crossing, the Charter Oak Bridge to the south. The traffic relief on the Bulkeley was short lived, but much more significant changes were to come. In 1964, the bridge was widened to eight lanes, but this was to the disappointment of some transiters who had hoped that the bridge would be expanded to twelve lanes, but the bridge structure simply could not handle that many lanes.

Very little of the Bulkeley's artistic value can be appreciated from the lanes on Interstate 84. So other agencies and helpers have initiated efforts to provide parks and trails which are being built on both sides of the Connecticut River with the hope of offering great views of the bridges.



The stone for the bridge itself was provided by the quarries at Leete’s Island between 1904 and 1908. The bridge consists of nine semi-elliptical spans set on piers supported by concrete filled wooden Caissons sunk up to 50 feet below the river. The base of each pier is finished in rough-faced, gray ashlar from Beattie’s Quarries, and the arches, piers, and railing constructed by Stony Creek pink granite, supplied by Norcross Brothers. (5)


Immediately as construction began there were problems with the “sandhogs” hired to dig the foundations for the bridge itself. This work often fell to African American workers who were exempt from Unions and who held the lowest forms of labor in American society. In addition to African Americans a hodgepodge of immigrants and unskilled workers operated in caisson chambers built so that workers could adapt to the different air pressure when traveling under water to dig. Iron pipes carried forced air from engines on shore, along the bridge's footpath to the caissons.  The work took place around the clock on 8-hour shifts, but even the strongest sand hog could only work a few hours at a time under the river.  Considering the difficulty of the work, sand hogs were only paid $2.50 a day. Despite the grueling conditions and the low wages the contractors McMullen, Weand and McDermott, who were in control of the site still withheld and delayed pay to the laborers. After their payment was delayed for a second week the laborers began to strike. This matter was quickly resolved when striking workers threatened to cut off the air supply to the scabs working on the bridge that crossed the picket line. The threats were quickly dealt with and the strikers got their money the next day. (4)

Government’s Role

Naturally as a government project the bridge was built from tax revenues, and was an effort to improve the infrastructure of the Hartford area. With the emergence of automobiles as a consumer item, bridges were needed so cars could cross the Connecticut River to move freely between Hartford and East Hartford. The State of Connecticut awarded contracts to all different sub-contractors to complete the job. Upon completion the bridge remained the property of the State of Connecticut, and it is responsible for all maintenance that the bridge requires.

News Articles

1)      http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F50E13F73F5A12738DDDA10A94D8415B878CF1D3


[1] http://www.kurumi.com/roads/ct/br-bulkeley.html

[2] http://www.past-inc.org/historic-bridges/stone-bulkeley-right.html

[3] http://www.ctmuseumquest.com/?page_id=6464

[4] http://homefront.homestead.com/sandhogs.html

[5] Deborah DeFord - Stony Creek Granite Workers Celebration/Leete's Island Books - 2000

Bridges Wed, 20 Oct 2010 17:46:12 +0000
Hudson River Bridge http://www.foundationsofamerica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=389:hudson-river-bridge&catid=55:bridges&Itemid=68 http://www.foundationsofamerica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=389:hudson-river-bridge&catid=55:bridges&Itemid=68 Reserved

Bridges Mon, 18 Oct 2010 20:47:44 +0000
Brooklyn Bridge http://www.foundationsofamerica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=386:brooklyn-bridge&catid=55:bridges&Itemid=68 http://www.foundationsofamerica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=386:brooklyn-bridge&catid=55:bridges&Itemid=68  

In the late 18th century, the idea of a bridge spanning a length as great as New York City’s East river seemed unimaginable. Such a leap in structural engineering had not yet been made, and any such effort would surely prove to be monumentally challenging. Many said at the time that it could not be done, that it was a crazy idea. The task of connecting the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan would require an engineer of great skill and confidence. John Augustus Roebling, a German born civil engineer, was up for the challenge. His ability to foresee the importance of such a bridge and the volume of its potential use was extraordinary. Not only was he able to create a functional bridge but a powerful and aesthetically bold masterpiece.


John Augustus Roebling

Immigrating to America in 1831, Roebling decided to become a civil engineer after failed attempts at becoming a farmer in America. He gained a reputation by developing his own method of stranding and weaving wire cables that resulted in an incredibly strong and durable product to be used in the engineering of canals and bridges. The success he achieved with his steel cable design resulted in a flourishing cable company. Not being particularly satisfied with being involved in the business aspect of engineering Roebling passed the business on to his son and went on to design and build suspension bridges. He built four suspension bridges prior to the Brooklyn Bridge; two in Pittsburgh, one at Niagara Falls, and another across the Ohio River. Having such experience and success with previous built bridges, it is easy to see why New York state chose Roebling’s design proposal for the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge and further appointed him chief engineer. (Britannica)

The Brooklyn Bridge is not only known for its great functionality, but also for its impressive architectural design. In his design and planning phase Roebling knew this would be a structure which would stand for many century’s to come, he needed to choose building materials that would be able to stand this test of time. Due to its strength, durability, and locality, Roebling was able to use one of the great popular stones of the time, granite. Along with the aforementioned qualities, granite is also a beautiful building stone. Taking advantage of the transcontinental railroad system he was able to utilize granite from the Beatties Quarry in Guilford, Connecticut. After 127 years, it is of no question that the stone has proved its structural integrity. Stony creek granite can be found making up the two towers of the Brooklyn Bridge as well as its foundation and abutments. Each of the towers has two gothic cathedral inspired arches in the center that point off at the top. The bridge, specifically its towers, have been referred to as a great source of great inspiration for many authors, poets, artists, and photographers. (Deford,2000)


Although the Brooklyn Bridge has proved to be one of the best architectural accomplishments of it’s time, and one of the most important bridges in New York’s history, it did not come without its hardships, setbacks, and losses. The first setback and loss experienced with its creation occurred before any initial construction had even begun. It was in July of 1869 when John Roebling suffered an injury that would later ultimately lead to his death. While recording compass readings at a ferry dock on the East River to decide placement of the bridge foundations his leg and foot were crushed when an unseen boat pulled up to the dock and caught his leg in between the dock pilings. His toes were so badly injured that doctors had to amputate them, but it was to late he had already developed tetanus and passed away three weeks later. His son, Washington Roebling, who had worked with his father on past bridges, took over his father’s role as chief engineer. (Britannica)

Washington Roebling

Loss of life would unfortunately not become uncommon during the course of bridge construction. Because the bridge foundation had to be laid below water level, the task of doing so was especially complicated. In order to create an area for workers to work in a dry environment at the bottom of the riverbed, pneumatic caissons made of timber were developed and used. A caisson is a large box with no bottom; using a tugboat the caissons are towed out to the proper location and dropped to riverbed floor weighted down by giant granite blocks. Through openings at the top of the pneumatic caissons, which had tunnels leading above water level, compressed air is forced inside the chamber preventing water from rushing in and filling it. Men called “sand hogs” worked in the caisson digging into the riverbed. Another access to the caisson is a “muck tube” which leads to a water pit at the bottom of the caisson. This is where the dirt, rock, and mud dug up by workers exited the caisson; it is sucked up the tube to the surface where a crane with a closing bucket can scoop the waste away. The men dug until they reached solid bedrock and once struck the caisson was then ready to be filled with rock foundation and cement. When digging for the foundation at the Brooklyn side, bedrock was struck at 44 feet below water level, the Manhattan side proved to be much deeper at 78 feet below water level. Working conditions in the caisson were dark, wet, and the air was always saturated with moisture. Atmospheric pressure inside the caissons was four times greater than above water level, creating unbearable inner ear pressure and headaches for workers. More seriously was the lack of understanding of the debilitating and deadly disease known as the decompression sickness or “the bends”. This is caused by rapid decrease of pressure in the body. Since nitrogen levels in the blood are much higher than normal at such depths, surfacing to normal atmospheric pressure quickly does not allow the nitrogen to be released from the body quickly enough. This results in nitrogen building up in the blood stream, causing a wide span of complications in the body. The mildest of symptoms can be a rash and joint pain caused by escaping nitrogen bubbles. The body pain experienced by victims causes them to bend over hence the name “the bends”.  More serious cases lead to paralysis and death. This occurs when symptoms affect the nervous system. (Pulley,2009)


Underwater pneumatic caisson

Over one hundred workers became sick with compression sickness during the construction of the bridge, some dying as a result. Unfortunately for Roebling in 1872 would be one of the more serious cases. After inspecting work in a caisson, he surfaced too quickly which lead to a bout of compression sickness leaving him paralyzed and bed ridden for the remainder of the bridge’s construction. Having the same determination and unrelenting will as his father, this did not exclude Washington Roebling entirely from overseeing the bridges construction. He moved to a city apartment where he could view the construction site with binoculars and a telescope. His wife Emily Roebling took charge of the bridges construction. She learned bridge engineering and advanced mathematics so she could better oversee construction of the bridge.

Emily Roebling

On May 24, 1883 fourteen years after the start of construction on the Brooklyn Bridge, and twenty-seven lost lives, the bridge was finally completed. At the time it was the longest suspension bridge in the world with a main span of 1, 600 feet. It was also the highest structure in New York City and considered “the 8th wonder of the world” by many. The bridge would change the course of the city’s history forever. Due to the ease of access between the two cities that the bridge allowed, it resulted in the direct expansion of New York. Fifteen years after its opening in 1883, Brooklyn merged with New York City, Staten Island, and other small farm towns to form Greater New York. As part of the opening celebrations and in an effort to put a weary public at rest, Barnum and Bailey circus marched across the bridge to prove its structural integrity, elephants and all. (NYC Roads)

After one glimpse of the New York City skyline, it becomes undeniably apparent why the Brooklyn Bridge is arguably one of the most influential structures in the western hemispheres history. Its tall towers stand powerfully against the city backdrop, accented by its steel suspension cables swooping down from either side of each tower. Not only has the bridge served as a crucial player in the growth and success of one of the greatest cities in the world, but is one of the greatest architectural accomplishments of its time. The Brooklyn Bridge has surely set precedents for future bridges built.









Deford , Deborah. (2000). Flesh and Stone. Stony Creek: Quarry Workers Celebration.

John Augustus Roebling. Britannica. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/506711/John-Augustus-Roebling

Brooklyn Bridge Opens. History.com. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/brooklyn-bridge-opens

Brooklyn Bridge Historical Overview . Nyc roads.com. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from http://www.nycroads.com/crossings/brooklyn/

Pulley, Stephen . (2009, September 17). Decompression sickness . Retrieved from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/769717-overview





Bridges Mon, 18 Oct 2010 14:29:39 +0000