New York City has constructed a temporary bridge adjacent to the old City Island Bridge that opened July 4, 1901. It took almost three years to build and cost $200,000. The city's Department of Transportation is in the midst of demolishing the old City Island Bridge and constructing a new bridge to replace it after years of controversy over the original proposed design for a soaring, 18-story cable bridge intended to evoke a massive sail. The new City Island Bridge that will be constructed follows a simple causeway design more in keeping with the character and nature of the island.
Rendering of the Proposed City Island Causeway Bridge
To Be Built as Replacement for the Old City Island Bridge
Opened in 1901. NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.
The history of the ferries and bridges that have connected City Island to the mainland for nearly two hundred fifty years is long and storied. Part of that history involves the bridge built in 1901 that replaced an earlier bridge built by David Carll of City Island in 1868.
By the mid-1880s, that old City Island Bridge completed in 1868 had become a decrepit, dangerous, and dilapidated eyesore. The bridge originally was built from the timbers of an ancient decommissioned ship known as the North Carolina, cobbled together with a draw that was taken from the old Harlem Bridge when that bridge was replaced. As one account put it so succinctly, even when newly-built in 1868, the City Island bridge was "nothing but a second hand affair."
Interestingly, in 1884 there was an effort to authorize the Town of Pelham to issue bonds to fund the replacement of the old wooden bridge with another wooden bridge. It appears that with New York City assembling parkland on the mainland with plans to form Pelham Bay Park at the time, the initiative withered on the vine. The iniative, however, provides an interesting glimpse of the importance of the City Island Bridge to the Town of Pelham at the time, as well as the process that would have been followed had the wooden replacement bridge become a reality.
On March 6, 1884, a member of the New York State Assembly, S. W. Johnson, introduced a bill entitled "An act to authorize the contstruction of a bridge in the town of Pelham, Westchester county, between the mainland of said town and City island, and to authorize the acquiring of land therefor, and the issuing of bonds of the said town to pay for said bridge." By unanimous consent, the bill was read a first and then a second time. It immediately was referred to the Committee on Roads and Bridges for analysis.
That month, the full text of the bill was reproduced in a local newspaper. That text is reproduced in its entirety below. The bill authorized the Town Board of Pelham to issue up to $20,000 in bonds paying up to 5% interest per annum to fund the construction of a wooden draw bridge to replace the old City Island Bridge built by David Carll. The bill further authorized the Town Board to buy land on the mainland and on City Island necessary for the bridge and, in the event owners would not sell such land, then the Town could buy such land "in the same manner and by like proceedings, as railroad corporations are authorized by law to acquire land in cases in which they are unable to agree with the owners."
The bill further would require that the bridge be a public bridge with no tolls charged. The bill further provided a detailed process for reporting by the Town of Pelham on the status of repayment of such bonds to retire the debt.
It was not until after the City of New York annexed the region from Pelham in 1895, that efforts to replace the old wooden City Island Bridge gained traction. The city began construction in 1898, opening the new bridge (that is now being demolished) on July 4, 1908.
Undated Photograph of the Old City Island Bridge Built
by David Carll. NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.
Undated Photograph of the Old City Island Bridge Built
by David Carll. NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.
Undated Post Card View of the Steel City Island Bridge Opened
in 1901, Circa 1920s. NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.
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To authorize the construction of a bridge in the town of Pelham, Westchester Co., between the mainland of said town and City Island, and to authorize the acquiring of land therefore, and the issuing of bonds of the said town to pay for said bridge.
The people of the State of New York represesented in Senate and Assembly do enact as follows:
Section 1. The Town Board of the town of Pelham, in the county of Westchester, is hereby authorized and empowered to construct, or cause to be constructed, a wooden draw-bridge, at a cost not exceeding twenty thousand dollars, across and over that branch or arm of Long Island Sound at the narrows, so called, between the mainland of said town and the Island known as City Island, also in said town of Pelham : Said bridge to comence, at or near the place on the mainland aforesaid where the present bridge begins, and to extend across said branch or arm of Long Island Sound to the place or near the place on City Island where the present bridge terminates. The said Town Board is hereby further authorized, for and on behalf of, and in the name of said town, to take and hold, in the manner hereinafter mentioned, so much land, at or near each end of the said bridge, as may be necessary for the erection of the said bridge and the piers, abutments, and other appurtenances thereof, and for all necessary approaches leading to and from the same. The said bridge shall be constructed with a draw, to open at least forty feet, so as to permit vessels with standing masts to pass through the same.
Section 2. It shall be lawful for the said Town Board, for and in behalf, of the said town to purchase such land, at and near each end of the bridge at the mainland and on City Island, as may be necessary for the purposes of said bridge, and to enter upon and take possession of the same. Such land to be purchased of the owners thereof at a price mutually to be agreed upon; and if, for any reason, the said board are unable to agree with the owner or owners for the purchase of any real estate so required for the purposes of said bridge, the said Town Board shall have the right to acquire such real estate for, and in the name of, the town, in the same manner and by like proceedings, as railroad corporations are authorized by law to acquire land in cases in which they are unable to agree with the owners of the same. The said board is also hereby authorized, for and in behalf of the said town, to use and occupy so much of the bed of the stream of the said sound, and the land between high and low water mark, as may be necessary for the purposes of said bridge and the piers, abutments and appurtenances are to be so constructed and used as not to hinder or delay navigation.
Section 3. Such bridge when erected, shall always be a free bridge for the use of the public, and all vessels shall have the right to pass through the draw thereof without toll.
Section 4. The construction of said bridge shall be under the management and control of the said Town Board of the town of Pelham, or of a committee appointed thereby, who shall receive no compensation for such supervision, management and control as aforesaid.
Section 5. The supervisor of the said town of Pelham, by and with the consent of the town board, or of a majority of the members thereof, is hereby authorized and empowered to borrow, upon the credit of said town, the sum of twenty thousand dollars to pay for the construction of such bridge, the drawing of plans and specifications therefor and other necessary incidental expenses, and to secure the sum so borrowed and the interest thereon, the said supervisor is hereby authorized and empowered to issue coupon bonds, by and with the consent of the said town board, as hereinbefore provided, in the manner and to the amount hereinafter provided.
Section 6. The said bonds shall be signed by the Supervisor and the Town Clerk of said town, and issued for an amount not less than two hundred and fifty dollars each, and not more than one thousand dollars each : the sum of two thousand dollars only, of the money so borrowed, as hereby authorized, shall become due and payable on the first day of May in each year. A record of all bonds, so issued, shall be kept by the Town Clerk, of said town, in a book to be kept by him for that purpose; showing the date and amount of each bond, when the same becomes due and payable; the amount of principal and interest paid and remaining unpaid, and all particulars in relation to the issue, sale and redemption thereof.
Section 7. Said bonds shall bear interest at a rate not exceeding five per cent. per annum, payable annually, and shall be sold for not less than their par value; and the premium, if any, which may be received thereon, shall be applied in payment of the interest first becoming due thereon, and the amount of such premiums shall be deducted from the sum authorized to be levied and collected, as provided in the ninth section of this act.
Section 8. The supervisor of the said town shall at the time of making his annual accounting, as provided by law, make a full and true report of all bonds so issued and outstanding and unpaid, the number date and amount thereof, and the amount of interest paid during the year : for all of which payments of bonds and interest the proper vouchers must be presented with said report, and said report shall be entered in full by the said town clerk in the book to be kept by him for that purpose.
Section 9. During each and every year, while any of said bonds remain unpaid, it shall be the duty of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Westchester to cause to be levied and collected, according to law, from the taxable property and inhabitants of the town of Pelham, over and above the expenses of collecting the same, and at the same time and in the same manner in which the taxes of said town for other town purposes shall be levied and collected, such sums as will be sufficient to pay the amount of interest, due or becoming due in any one year, on said bonds; together with and in addition to an amount not exceeding two thousand dollars in any one year, to pay the principal of such of the bonds as may become due and payable during the year; the amount so levied and collected, as provided in this section, shall be in addition to the other sums authorized or required by law to be annually levied and collected, as provided in this section, shall be in addition to the other sums authorized or required by law to be annually levied and collected from the taxable property and inhabitants of said town.
Section 10. All acts or parts of acts inconsisent with the foregoing act are hereby repealed.
Section 11. This act shall take effect immediately."
"THURSDAY, MARCH 6, 1884.
The House met pursuant to adjournment. . . .
By unanimous consent,
Mr. S. W. Johnson introduced a bill entitled 'An act to authorize the contstruction of a bridge in the town of Pelham, Westchester county, between the mainland of said town and City island, and to authorize the acquiring of land therefor, and the issuing of bonds of the said town to pay for said bridge,' which was read the first time, and by unanimous consent was also read the second time, and referred to to committee on roads and bridges."
Source: Journal of the Assembly of the State of New York: At Their One Hundred And Seventh Session Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Albany, on the First Day of January, 1884, p. 423 (Albany, NY: Weed, Parsons & Co., 1884).
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To learn more about the City Island Bridge, early efforts to develop a bridge from the mainland to City Island and about Benjamin Palmer, Samuel Rodman, and others involved in efforts to build such a bridge, see the following.
Wed., May 06, 2015: Another Interesting History of City Island Published in 1901.
Fri., Mar. 13, 2015: An Important History of the City Island Bridge Built in 1868 and the Way Brothers' Ferry That Preceded It.
Mon., Dec. 15, 2014: Brief History of City Island Including the Legend of the Macedonia Hotel with Photographs Published in 1906.
Thu., Dec. 04, 2014: Park Department Commissioners Condemned -- But Didn't Close -- the "Dilapidated" City Island Bridge in 1894.
Tue., Oct. 07, 2014: Legislative History of the 1775 Statute Authorizing Construction of City Island Bridge.
Fri., Oct. 03, 2014: 1775 Statute Authorizing Construction of City Island Bridge.
Tue., Jul. 22, 2014: Stories of City Island Bridge Published in 1892.
Labels: 1884, Board of Supervisors, Bond, City Island Bridge, Law, Legislation, Statute, Westchester County Board of Supervisors