Bayonne Bridge Steel Rope, Making History in Lower Manhattan

By Neal Buccino, Special to Portfolio

Photos by the Port Authority’s Mike Dombrowski

Six centuries ago, engineers in the Inka Empire designed cable bridges long enough to span Peru’s mountain gorges and durable enough to withstand earthquakes.

They wove these bridges out of grass and made them remarkably strong, using principles of physics that today support modern-day marvels such as the George Washington Bridge and Bayonne Bridge.

Next year, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian-New York — located in the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in Lower Manhattan — will help students learn about these technological achievements, with a little help from the Port Authority. The agency recently donated to the museum a five-foot length of steel suspender rope from the Bayonne Bridge, one of the 152 original steel ropes that held up its 9,800-ton roadway for 85 years.

Made of more than 200 tightly wrapped steel wires, the suspender rope was removed as part of the Port Authority’s “Raise the Roadway” project, which will permit ultra-large container ships to navigate the Kill van Kull.

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The Port Authority’s Roger Prince and Kevin Gover with the five-foot section of donated Bayonne Bridge suspender rope.

 

It will live on in the museum’s imagiNATIONS Activity Center, expected to debut next April. There, the steel rope (tensile strength: 950,000 pounds) will be displayed next to a grass rope with a tensile strength of 4,000 pounds, of the kind still used in Peru’s last remaining rope bridge, the Q’eswachaka.

Nearby, suspended from the ceiling, visitors will see a 26-foot section of an actual rope bridge built by the modern-day keepers of the Q’eswachaka Bridge. The 4,500-square-foot imagiNATIONS Activity Center will include interactive exhibits on Native American innovations across fields as varied as engineering and architecture, medicine and nutrition.

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The Bayonne Bridge suspender rope had to be tested for lead and other contaminants before donation. This swab test was performed by the Smithsonian’s Mike Hunt.

 

The exhibit will help visiting students understand how, with flexible strands of any material twisted and braided together, a rope much stronger than its component parts can be created.

“Showcasing a section of Bayonne Bridge steel cable alongside an Inka bridge rope made of ichu grass highlights the continuity in engineering concepts the Inka and their descendants have used for millennia,” said Kevin Gover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian. “Native innovation is everywhere in modern life and this is one instance where we can directly point to it and provide that ‘a-ha’ moment.”

“This steel rope carries all the history of the Bayonne Bridge, which in its day was the longest steel arch bridge in the world,” said Roger Prince, the Port Authority’s Deputy Director of Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals. “We hope it provides an educational experience for everyone who visits the imagiNATIONS Center.”

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The museum’s Gerard Breen shows off a model of the imagiNATIONS Activity Center, where the steel suspender rope will be displayed.

Posted in Bayonne Bridge, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

WTC GREENMARKET SPROUTS BACK UP AFTER 16 YEARS

By Ashley Germinario, Port Authority Media Relations Staff

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A relationship between rural farmers and city natives is usually a rare sight. Yet, beginning in 1984, the interactions of these two groups became the norm in Lower Manhattan, where their friendships began over the exchange of blossoming flowers, fresh fruits and ready-to-eat veggies.

The Greenmarket, operated by the environmental organization GrowNYC, visited twice a week at a spot along Church Street near the old 4 World Trade Center. Here, dozens of farmers put their green thumbs to good use, supplying the surrounding city foot traffic with healthy, locally grown products.

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Greenmarket patrons celebrate the return of the outdoor market to the World Trade Center.

All that came to a halt with the devastation of 9/11. Many farmers and vendors serving the community when the twin towers were struck were forced to abandon their loyal customers and friends for years.  Nearly 16 years later, they’ve returned.

Starting June 20, the Greenmarket featuring 11 farmers – many of whom sold their produce in the area before 9/11 — will reopen on Tuesdays from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. on the Oculus Plaza at Fulton and Church streets outside the WTC Transportation Hub, with fresh local seafood, breads and pastries, vegetables, orchard fruits and juices and dairy products available for sale. It is scheduled to run through Nov. 21.

“The Greenmarket was a key part of the fabric that made up the World Trade Center community and the neighborhood that surrounded it before 9/11,” said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye.  “We’re pleased the market is now coming home – nearly 16 years after it left – strengthening the menu of fresh, healthy food offered at the site and providing an attractive amenity for those who live and work here.”

Farmers markets have become fixtures in New York City, benefitting local farmers and city residents. As the World Trade Center neighborhood continues to rebuild, its bonds with local businesses such as Greenmarket are growing.  The prevalent theme with GrowNYC’s Greenmarket, then and now, is a strong community tie.

“This reunion of Greenmarket farmers with the community of Lower Manhattan is immensely meaningful,” said GrowNYC President and CEO Marcel Van Ooyen. “In addition to gaining access to healthy local products, Greenmarket customers at the market will once again find comfort in the familiar faces of their favorite farmers.”

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For the first time in 16 years, fresh produce and vegetables are available for sale every Tuesday at Fulton and Church streets.

Posted in Uncategorized, WTC, WTC PATH station | Tagged

Throwback Thursday: Stewart, New York’s Other International Airport

By Roz Hamlett and Ashley Germinario, Media Relations Staff

Until now, the only thing missing from Stewart International Airport was the international. With the commencement of regularly scheduled low-cost flights to Europe on Norwegian Airlines, the one-time U.S. Air Force base joins the Port Authority’s network of truly intercontinental airports.

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Stewart International Airport is strategically located north of the ‘Big Three’ Port Authority airports:  Newark Liberty International (EWR), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).  Westchester County Airport (HPN) is county owned and not operated by the Port Authority.

But without the forward thinking of one influential aviation enthusiast, the former sprawl of upstate New York farmland might never have become an airport, let alone an emerging player in international commercial flight.

In 1930, Archie Stewart had the remarkable foresight to convince his uncle, Samuel Lachlan Stewart, to donate more than 200 acres of the family’s farmland to the city of Newburgh for an airport. Commercial aviation was on the rise, and Stewart reasoned that the city would need an airport for its economy to grow.

The first big boost came four years later when the U.S. Military Academy at West Point built the first airfield for cadet aviation training at the behest of its superintendent, Douglas MacArthur (the same MacArthur who would later distinguish himself as a five-star general during World War II).

During the Cold War years of the 1950s, a concrete spy bunker – one of 22 constructed nationwide – allowed the Air Force to monitor the activity of enemy planes. The air base was deactivated in 1970, with the state of New York acquiring the land and turning the airport in the direction of commercial aviation.

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From this nondescript concrete building, the Air Force monitored the activities of enemy airplanes.

It was then-New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller who, after seeing the long runways, envisioned the airport’s potential as a hub for intercontinental flights. After its closure as an air force base, Rockefeller put together an ambitious plan to expand and develop the airport.

In 1985, W.R. Grace built the first corporate hangar, becoming the first private company to invest in the airport, and several businesses began operations there during the decade. In 1989, American Airlines announced the beginning of scheduled domestic flight service at Stewart, followed by American Eagle and United Express.

That same year, the airport opened a 50,000-square-foot air cargo building, and the U.S. Postal Service began operating its new mail distribution facility. In 2000, Stewart signed a 99-year lease with National Express Corporation, becoming the first privatized commercial airport. At the time, the only international flights from Stewart were seasonal charter flights to Cancun.

The PA purchased the lease in 2007 from National Express and made the airport part of the region’s airport system. Through more than $180 million in investments, the Port Authority transformed the airport into an efficient transportation hub with convenient parking, shorter lines, and personalized customer service – an experience not always possible in the region’s larger airports.

After being underused for years with just a handful of carriers offering a limited number of flights, the airport is emerging as ‘New York’s Other Airport.’

Posted in airport history, Hudson Valley, John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Stewart International Airport, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,