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The Verrazano Bridge, America's Longest Span, Is 50 Years Old

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On November 21, 1964, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opened, and thousands of drivers pressed on the gas. For the first time, all five boroughs were connected by roads rather than waterways. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world, knocking San Francisco's Golden Gate from its perch—and it still is the longest in the United States. Its center stretch, the part between the two 693-foot towers spans 4,260 feet. It was Robert Moses's last big hurrah, so naturally opened with the usual fanfare befitting what city officials were proud to call their very own $320 million marvel of engineering, technology, construction, and design: music; cannons; flags; fireboat sprays.

There is an underbelly to all the hoopla, though, that the celebration didn't acknowledge. First, that three workers died during its five-year construction (which, based on this video, looks pretty perilous). Second, ironworkers who welded and soldered the span weren't invited to the celebration, so they boycotted it. Third, many Bay Ridge residents were displaced, and not happy about it—as Forgotten NY's Kevin Walsh writes so eloquently in his personal history of the Verrazano's construction. Here now, in honor of its half a century of operation, 50 photos of the iconic bridge, from a single pylon through to completion and commemoration.

Special thanks to fantastic repositories of historic photos: the Museum of the City of New York, the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, and the Brooklyn Historical Society.

· Watch As Harness-Less Workers Build The Verrazano Bridge [Curbed]
· Bridge in the Back Yard: Construction of the Verrazano-Narrows [Forgotten NY]
· All Verrazano Bridge coverage [Curbed]