Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Beautiful Image of the Old Iron Pelham Bridge Built in 1869-1870

For much of the last two hundred years, there has been a bridge over the Hutchinson River where it empties into Eastchester Bay. The various bridges that have been built there have played a critical role in the development, and thus the history, of the Town of Pelham. 

On March 6, 1812, the New York State Legislature enacted a statute incorporating the "Eastchester Bridge Company" to build a bridge over the Hutchinson River where it empties into Eastchester Bay. The bridge was built shortly afterward and is believed to have been completed by about 1815. 

In 1817, the Westchester and Pelham Turnpike Company was incorporated to construct a turnpike from the causeway at Westchester to the bridge. That bridge came to be known as "Pelham Bridge" -- the name it bears today. Even in its first iteration, Pelham Bridge included a draw to permit ships to pass. Within its first few years, the first Pelham Bridge was destroyed by a storm. On April 12, 1816, the company was authorized by the Legislature to sell its property and toll franchise for a period of forty-five years. 

Some sources say the second bridge was built in 1834 by George Rapelje, with the right to charge tolls for a period of thirty years, but the supervisors of Westchester County purchased the bridge in 1860 and made it free. The bridge was replaced with an iron bridge constructed in 1869-1870. That bridge, in turn, was replaced by the present larger bridge, opened by the New York City Department of Bridges on October 15, 1908.

Today's Historic Pelham presents a lovely postcard image of the old iron Pelham Bridge constructed in 1869-1870 that was replaced by the concrete arch bridge that stands to this day.  The image appears immediately below.

NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Though the postcard is undated, it most certainly depicts the Pelham Bridge about 1907.  There is no evidence in the image of any construction of the abutments of the current concrete arch Pelham Bridge that opened adjacent to the site of this old iron bridge on October 15, 1908.  The photograph immediately below shows the bridge in the postcard image above in the background of a photograph showing the new bridge abutments under construction in the foreground.

IN BACKGROUND."  Source:  Concrete Arch Bridge at Pelham
Bay Park, Good Roads, May 1910, pp. 190-92 (NY, NY: E.L.
Powers Co. 1910).  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

An earlier image of the old iron bridge published in 1884 in Harper's Weekly as part of a page of images showing various parts of Pelham Bay Park shows the Pelham Bridge about 25 years earlier from a slightly different angle.  Careful scrutiny of each of these three images will show features in addition to the paired arches of the bridge that appear in all three images.

Detail from Engraving Published in 1884 Showing Old Iron
Pelham Bridge. Source: "PELHAM PARK, NEW YORK. -- DRAWN
BY CHARLES GRAHAM.", Harper's Weekly, Vol. XXVIII, No. 1442,
1884, pp. 514 & 521. Note that the iron arches of the bridge are visible
in the distance on the right edge of the image.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

The undated postcard image of the old iron Pelham Bridge reminds us of a simpler and quaint time when horses, carriages, cattle, and oxen wandered the roads of Pelham and crossed the bridges of our region.

*          *          *          *          *

Below are examples of previous postings that address the histories of the various Pelham Bridges that have spanned Eastchester Bay for the last two centuries and development of associated roadways.

Mon., Jan. 08, 2018:  Remnants of the Ten-Story Mountain of Garbage That Looms Over Pelham Bridge.

Wed., Nov. 22, 2017:  The Westchester and Pelham Turnpike Road Company Incorporated in 1817.

Wed., May 17, 2017:  More on the History of the Pelham Bridge Hotel that Burned Down on October 28, 1882

Fri., Oct. 14, 2016:  Early History of Pelham's Ancient Shore Road, Long an Important Pelham Thoroughfare Along Long Island Sound.

Thu., Oct. 13, 2016:  The Eastchester Bridge Company Raised Tolls on Pelham Bridge Before It Was Even Built.

Wed., Oct. 12, 2016:  More on the Early History of Pelham Bridge Including Ownership of the Bridge Between 1834 and 1860.

Tue., Oct. 11, 2016:  Is It Possible The First Pelham Bridge Built in About 1815 Was Repaired After Near Destruction by a Storm?

Tue., Aug. 02, 2016:  More Research Regarding the 19th Century Grand View Hotel at Pelham Bridge.

Mon., Aug. 01, 2016:  Pelham Bridge Hotel Used by Col. Delancey Astor Kane's Pelham Coach Burned Down in 1882.

Fri., Jul. 29, 2016:  Shooting Death at the Grand View Hotel at Pelham Bridge in 1892.

Thu., Jul. 21, 2016:  "Base Ball" Match Played at Arcularius Hotel at Pelham Bridge in 1875.

Tue., May 17, 2016:  Rare Images of the Lorillard Cottage of "Coaching to Pelham" Fame.

Wed., Oct. 1, 2014:  Bridge Keepers of the Pelham Bridge from 1870 to 1872.

Mon., Jul. 21, 2014:  Image of the Second Pelham Bridge Built in 1834 From a Sketch Created in 1865.

Thu., Jul. 17, 2014:  Sabotage Brought Down the 70-Ton Draw Span of Pelham Bridge in 1908 and Delayed its Opening

Tue., Jun. 10, 2014: Construction of the Concrete Arch Pelham Bridge.

Mon., May 12, 2014: The March 6, 1812 New York Statute Authorizing Construction of the Pelham Bridge.

Tue., Sep. 22, 2009: Names of Early "Keepers of Pelham Bridge" Appointed by Westchester County.

Thu., Jan. 08, 2009: Another Brief History of The Pelham Bridge.

Thu., Jan. 1, 2009: A Brief History of Pelham Bridge.

Wed., Jan. 2, 2008: New York State Senate Report on Petition by Inhabitants of Westchester to Allow Construction of Toll Bridge Across Eastchester Creek in 1834.

Tue., Aug. 28, 2007: The Laying Out of Pelham Avenue From Fordham to Pelham Bridge in 1869.

Wed., Jul. 4, 2007: 1857 Real Estate Advertisement for Sale of the Pelham Bridge.

Fri., Jul. 22, 2007: 1857 Real Estate Advertisement for Sale of "Country Seat" at Pelham Bridge.

Fri., May 18, 2007: Celebration at Pelham Bridge in 1872.

Wed., May 16, 2007: Board of Supervisors of Westchester County Vote to Build New Iron Bridge to Replace Pelham Bridge in 1869.

Tue., May 15, 2007: The Owner of the Pelham Bridge Hotel Sold it for the Princely Sum of $22,000 in 1869.

Mon., May 14, 2007: Plans to Widen Shore Road in the Town of Pelham in 1869.

Fri., May 11, 2007: A Sad Attempted Suicide at Pelham Bridge in 1869.

Thu., Dec. 08, 2005: The First Stone Bridge Built Across Eastchester Creek in Pelham, 1814-1815.

Thu., Aug. 18, 2005: The Opening of the New Iron "Pelham Bridge" in 1871.

Tue., Aug. 9, 2005: Cock Fighting at Pelham Bridge in the 19th Century.

Thu., Jul. 21, 2005: Today's Remnants of the Bartow Station on the Branch Line Near City Island.

Tue., Jun. 28, 2005: The Hotel and Bar Room at Pelham Bridge.

Thu., Mar. 24, 2005: The Bartow Area of Pelham in the 19th Century: Where Was It?

Wed., Mar. 23, 2005: Prize Fighting at Pelham Bridge in 1884.

For more about the Pelham Bridge and its history, see Pelham Bridge, Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia, available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelham_Bridge (visited May 6, 2014).

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