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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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George Washington Suspension Bridge, ca. 1931
George Washington Roebling Suspension Bridge, ca. 1931. Photo courtesy New Jersey Office of Cultural and Environmental Services

John A. Roebling Company: Suspension Bridges Are Created

German immigrant John A. Roebling invented wire rope in 1840, which allowed construction of suspension bridges, such as The George Washington Bridge. Roebling located his wire rope-making factory in Trenton because of the city's proximity to his iron source, the Cooper Iron Works. The company, Roebling and Sons, continues to build many of the nation's finest suspension bridges, using the same wire technology that Roebling developed.

When the lower level of the George Washington Suspension Bridge opened on August 29, 1962, it was the strongest suspension bridge in existence, carrying fourteen lanes of roadway, and using 34 miles of wire rope. The two-level bridge, designed by the Port of New York Authority's chief engineer, Othmar Amman., crosses the Hudson River between upper Manhattan (West 178th Street) and Fort Lee, New Jersey and forms part of Interstate Highway I-95. Ground was broken for the original six-lane bridge in October 1927. The Port Authority opened the bridge to traffic on October 25, 1931. In 1946, two additional lanes were provided on the upper level. In 1981, the George Washington Bridge was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Documentation includes a copy of a New Jersey historic sites inventory of the George Washington Suspension Bridge and seven historic photographs.

Originally submitted by: Christopher H. Smith, Representative (4th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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