2005-01-07 / Community

Historical Views

of the Rockaways The Widening of Cross Bay Bridge
By Howard Schwach

of the Rockaways
The Widening of Cross Bay Bridge – 1938

Preliminary work for the widening of Cross Bay Bridge, Shore Front Parkway and public beach improvements began in mid to late 1937 by Robert Moses. Actual construction began in the summer of 1938 and progressed rapidly, using a 24-hour workday, before the grand opening of the project in June 1939. The Doughboy Monument was moved from the bayside to the boulevard, between Beach 94 Street and Beach 95 Streets, and rededicated. A ten-cent toll was put on the new widened bridge and 218,847 cars were reported crossing the bridge in the first two weeks.

Preliminary work then began on railroad crossing eliminations. Bicycles were not allowed on Shore Front Parkway, and thanks to Moses, there were no public bathhouses in the Rockaways. Visitors began disrobing in their cars to change into their swimwear. There were many complaints to officials about this new development. The police cracked down on code violators.

Today’s Historical Views was taken from atop the 100 Precinct Police Station in the late summer of 1938. Work is progressing on the bridge-grade separation, and the small parking area north of the LIRR tracks shown at the bottom of today’s view. The curved road on the right is the Beach 94 Street extension to Beach Channel Drive. Beach 95 Street can be seen at left center, along with the Jameson-Bond Lumber and Supply Company – which later became the Weisman Lumber Company and is today the site of Madeline Chocolate Novelties.

Bridge and road traffic had to deal with changing bypass routes, and for a time no traffic was allowed at all to facilitate the construction. A new bridge – three lanes wide – was built to the east or rather on the east side of the old bridge. When finished, the old bridge was rebuilt according to the specs of the new one. Together, they became the new six-lane bascule bridge.

The old bridge is shown in the open position as the work progresses. Broad Channel is at the top right in the photo and the First Congregational Church, hall and parsonage are on the right (not shown).

In 1970, the present Cross Bay Veteran’s Memorial Bridge was built by Moses – not the way he wanted, but that’s another story.

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