Today in History: Construction Begins on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge
by M.C. Millman
The official construction of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the United States spanning New York Harbor from Brooklyn to Staten Island, began on August 13, 1959.
The bridge was built by Othmar H. Ammann and took until 1964 to complete at a total cost of $325 million.
The bridge's 4,260-foot main span was the longest in the world until the completion of the Humber Bridge in 1981. Today, it is the 17th longest suspension bridge in the world with a double-decked six-lane-wide roadway, 228 feet above mean high water at midpoint. The bridge is supported by four cables hung from towers 693 feet high. Each cable weighs nearly 10,000 tons, while the bridge's roadway itself weighs 60,000 tons.
Three workers died from falling off the bridge during construction. After the third worker hit the water and died, there was a five-day strike in December 1963 which resulted in the installation of temporary safety nets underneath the deck.
The bridge was named after the 16th-century explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano. But a disagreement in the spelling of the name led to the name being spelled on the signage with a single z. In 2018 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to rectify the misspelling, as reported by BoroPark24 here, and as signs have faded over the years, the signs are being replaced one by one with the proper spelling.