9. The Hell Gate Bridge Towers Serve No Purpose

Photo by Dave Frieder

Dave Frieder tells us that the stone towers of the bridge, which sit above the road deck, serve no real structural function. They’re purely decorative. Early tower renderings by Henry Hornbostel (who worked with Lindenthal on the Queensboro Bridge) showed lavish Beaux-arts towers with separated arch abutments above the roadway. Those were scaled down in much less detail to the connected arched towers we have today. In a New York Times article, Allan Renz, the grandson of Gustav Lindenthal, reveals that his grandfather “wanted the bridge to look a particular way” and that “the [stone towers] made it look right.” Yet even the chain of masonry arches which lead to span and are structurally functional were celebrated for their beauty, According to The Bridges of New York City, one journalist wrote that piers were almost unmistakably Egyptian and they felt as if “you are standing in the portico of a mammoth unfinished temple.”

In 2015, urban exploration photographer, formerly known as @hakimms shared with us his photographs from atop and inside the Hell Gate Bridge, including inside the stone towers.