7. This Crossing of Newtown Creek Has Always Been Ill-Fated

In 1894, a newer version of the bridge was constructed as an overdue response to the delays caused by the ever-increasing demands of carriage and shipping traffic. But while this replacement was under construction, dozens of factory workers crowded onto the Queens side of the temporary wooden foot bridge, and the structure buckled, throwing them into Newtown Creek, ultimately leaving fourteen people dead. 

And after the actual bridge opened, the Queens side of the crossing started to experience another serious problem. The bridge exited close to the railroad tracks, and because there was no road adjacent to it, people often walked along the tracks. By 1908, an average of twenty people a year were killed in this spot after being hit by trains. And it wasn’t just people wandering on the track

“The fatal Penny Bridge crossing at Laurel Hill added a new name to its already long list of victims this morning….four persons returning in a coach from an interment in Calvary Cemetery were instantly killed by a train. Both horses were also killed. The accident was due to the towerman sending the gateman for a piece of pie just before an express train was due to reach the crossing.”

-Brooklyn Eagle, June 14, 1907

This complex convergence of pedestrian, carriage, boat, railroad and pie needs at a single point was making the Penny/Meeker Ave Bridge infamous as a structure that did not serve any of its respective constituencies particularly well.