A Little Decoration

The Queensboro Bridge is not known for its delicacy. It’s the only cantilever truss among New York City’s major bridges, and as such it looks very heavy compared to our suspension bridges. To this day, the best line about its appearance comes from Henry Hornbostel, the architect who was brought in to help with the design: “My God, it’s a blacksmith’s shop.”*

The picture above is the side of the approach, where it crosses First Avenue. I’m going to guess that the delicate tile pattern, which is original, was Hornbostel’s idea. Here’s an example of what horrified him and to which his decoration may have been in reaction to:

The bridge’s towers have all-steel pinnacles, one of which can be seen at the upper right. The bridge is a bit lighter when seen overall:

There has been a lot of construction on Roosevelt Island and in Queens since this picture was taken in 1983.

* There are a few variations of the quote running around, but it’s generally agreed upon that he said something like this in front of witnesses.

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