Robert Moses, the NYC Parks Commissioner in 1933, created the Marine Parkway Authority to develop a bridge that would connect Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to the Rockaways, which was a mildly developed peninsula of Queens. Opposition to the planned bridge came from ferries and operators of the Floyd Bennet Airfield, which was on the Brooklyn end of the proposed location. Landowners also feared that ice would build up at the location, which would flood the Rockaway Bay and Inlet. Moses belayed these fears by choosing a design from Madigan and Hyland, a civil engineering firm. The design incorporated a center lifting span to allow boats and ferries to travel into the Rockaway Inlet. The span area allowed ice flows to pass easily, and they drove 600 Douglas fir trees into the sand to protect the pilings from ice and the occasional boat.

In 1938, Moses merged the Marine Parkway Authority with the Triborough Bridge Authority. The new bridge helped to spur developments along both ends of the bridge. The bridge created a shortcut that removed a 30 mile circuitous route to reach the Rockaways. Moses also oversaw the development of recreational areas on the Rockaway Inlet, including the Jacob Riis Park, which was the first oceanfront beach in New York City developed specifically for the benefit of motorists. On the Brooklyn side, he created Marine Park, which was a recreational facility that included a marina and a golf course. These parks, along with Floyd Bennett Field and Fort Tilden, were incorporated into the Gateway National Recreation Area in 1974. Since the bridge was designed to compliment the NYC Parks and Recreation plan, a walkway for pedestrians was included in the original design. This walkway is part of the recreational trail called the Rockaway Greenbelt.

The Marine Parkway Bridge was co-renamed the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge in 1978. Gil was a first baseman for the old Brooklyn Dodgers and a manager for the New York Mets.


Marine Parkway Bridge Specifications

 Bridge Type:           Vertical lift-span
     Started:           June 1, 1936
      Opened:           July 3, 1937
 Designed by:           Madigan and Hyland, Inc.

                 Main lift:       540 feet
                     Total:     4,022 feet
            Mean Clearance:        55 feet
    Clearance, Lift Raised:       150 feet
 Steel in spans and towers:     7,600 tons
       Steel in deck spans:     3,800 tons
   Concrete in truss piers:    24,000 cubic yards
    Concrete in deck spans:    23,000 cubic yards
Cost of original structure:   $12,170,00000

Spans:          Rockaway Inlet (New York) 
Carries:        Highway 
Traffic Lanes:  4 
   Pedestrian:  5 foot pedestrian walkway
 Current toll:  $1.75
Original Toll:  $0.15
Traffic, 1937:  5,000 vehicles/day
         1998:  25,000 vehicles/day
Time to raise:  2 minutes / 95 feet

When I was living in New Yawk, I loved this bridge. When my father would pick me up in Far Rockaway to bring me to his house in Brooklyn, he would go over the Marine Parkway Bridge. This was the point where I knew we were almost home. I enjoyed looking at the cool National Guard aircraft that was visible off of Flatbush Avenue. If I was lucky, we would be stopped so they could raise the bridge.

Thanks go to Perdedor for the inspiration.

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