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The Whitestone Bridge Is Not In The Countryside

Back to the aerial photography with a March 1940 view of the Whitestone Bridge, connecting the east Bronx with northern Queens over the eastern end of the East River. The bridge had opened less than a year before the photo was taken.

Whitestone was designed at the peak of the trussless-bridge craze that culminated with the construction of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge almost simultaneously with Whitestone, and the collapse of Tacoma Narrows four months after it opened. Narrow-width suspension bridges with plate-girder stiffeners rather than the old-fashioned stiffening trusses were subject to greater deflection under wind load and therefore more easily reached resonance when the wind blew in the right direction. In 1943, Whitestone got some big stiffening trusses at its deck, with the top chord somewhat awkwardly curving below the cables at center span; in 2003, the trusses were removed and the problem was addressed from the other end (and in the manner of most modern suspension bridges), by adding fairings to reduce the wind vortices that cause up and down motion.

The picture above makes Whitestone look like it’s far from a city, but that’s really, really not true. The south end is in Whitestone in Queens, a residential neighborhood north of the busy commercial hub of downtown Flushing; the north end is in Ferry Point Park in the Bronx, but not far from much more heavily built-up parts of the Bronx. A long view from the same fly-over makes this a bit more clear:

The Bronx, at the top, looks a bit like sandpaper; each piece of sand is a decent-sized building.