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Last Birthday For The Tappan Zee Bridge?

The Tappan Zee Bridge turns 61 on Dec 15. With Tappan Zee Constructors planning to open the north span of the New NY Bridge in 2017 prior to the demolition of the current TZB, this could be the last anniversary for the first Tappan Zee Bridge. So rustic, yet so rusting.

Tappan Zee Photo Credit ©Dave ZornowOn Dec 13, 2016, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo stopped by the New NY Bridge to celebrate a milestone and review construction progress along with Congresswoman Nita Lowey and NYS Senators Andrea Stewart-Cousins and David Carlucci. Three score and one year before, another governor joined elected officials to make a similar appearance on the Hudson.
On Dec 15 1955, Governor Averell Harriman and Actress Helen Hayes joined the mayors of Nyack, South Nyack, Suffern and Tarrytown and a motorcade of 400 cars to dedicate the new Tappan Zee Bridge. “Nyack and the surrounding area assumes its position on the ‘Main Street of the Empire State’ today and the new Thruway bridge brings it within easy commuting range of metropolitan New York,” said NYS Thruway Chairman Bertam D. Tallamy. He was evasive about the name — because it wasn’t officially named the Tappan Zee Bridge until two months after the dedication.

Thruway Opening Ceremony on Dec 15, 1955. Source: Nyack Library via

“Just in case you hadn’t noticed, [this event] was probably one of the most important days in the history of Rockland County,” wrote Don Klein, a columnist for the Rockland Journal News. “No longer will Rockland be that practically isolated county on the other side of the Hudson River from Westchester, only accessible by archaic ferry lines. Now one can ride to and from Rockland County on the newest and possibly most modern highway in the world,” he said.
G. Winthrop Welles, the Executive Secretary of the the Chamber of Commerce of the Nyacks, made a presentation to the governor. The Nyack High School Band provided the music marking the momentous occasion. Click to see the official program from the dedication ceremony.
Not everyone was so enthusiastic. A photo from the day captured a protest by more than a dozen women carrying signs that said, “SAVE OUR VILLAGES! The NY Times gave the protesters equal time in its lead sentence in the article covering the dedication: “16 friendly pickets joined Governor Harriman yesterday in dedicating the $60 million Thruway bridge linking Rockland and Westchester Counties.” A related effort by a group called the “Committee to Save the Villages” was successful in helping to defeat an initiative to connect the NJ Turnpike with the NY Thruway cutting through Palisades, Piermont and Grand View, NY. Although the NJ Turnpike extension was never built, it’s legacy is still with us: it’s why NYS Thruway Interchange 10 takes West bound vehicles in a complete circle past the South Nyack exit before exiting the Thruway.
It only cost 50 cents to drive across the Hudson between Nyack and Tarrytown in 1955. It’s ten times that today, but still a bargain compared to the GWB. At least until 2020, according to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo TZB 20161213 Tappan Zee Bridge New NY Bridge Milestone: Topping Off and
Completion of Eight Main Span Towers

Progress continues on the new bridge and Governor Andrew Cuomo was on site on Tues Dec 13 to inspect the towers’ construction, stay cable installation, structural steel placement and road deck installation. “This is one of the largest projects ever undertaken by the state of New York. With the topping off of the eight main span towers, we have reached a major milestone,” he said. The governor says both spans of the New NY Bridge will open on time (in 2018 ) and on budget ($3.98 billion).

If you want to relive the excitement of the birth of the original Tappan Zee Bridge in glorious black and white, there’s promotional video on YouTube from the New York State Archives:

“The NYS Thruway, the superhighway of the great Empire State, is extended another 28 miles from Suffern and Yonkers. The most spectaular project of the thruway is the three mile bridge spanning the historic Tappan Zee section of the Hudson River between Tarrytown and Nyack. This is the largest bridge of its type in the world. It has over two acres of pavement spread over six wide lanes — three in each direction.”

Photo Credit: Nyack Library Collection at
Video: NY State Archives via
See also:


Official Program celebrating the New York State Thruway Opening

TZB Dedication Program 12/15/1955

The official program for the opening day dedication ceremony for the Tappan Zee Bridge in South Nyack, NY on Dec 15, 1955.

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