The Verrazano Narrows Bridge is intertwined with the growth
of Staten Island
and assorted problems related to it. The bridge
was the first direct road connection between Staten Island and the rest of New York City
. As a result, residential and economic/commercial growth exploded in the years after the bridge was built.
From the 1960 census to the 2000 census, Staten Island's population has nearly doubled (from approx. 222,000 in 1960 to 443,728 in 2000) while the rest of New York City's population has leveled off or even declined.
With the boon there's been growing pains. Increased traffic and pollution are two major issues. The bridge itself was related to both, as long lines at the toll booths led to traffic nightmares and tons of air pollution. In 1986, a mandate shifted all tolls to Staten Island-bound traffic only (instead of 2-way tolls), so much of the traffic jams and pollution are on the bridge itself and in nearby Brooklyn.
Unrelated to any of this, the bridge is the site of the start of the New York City Marathon.