Robert Caro, author of The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, once referred to the Triborough Bridge (known officially as the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge) as “a traffic machine.” This nickname could not be more suited to the superstructure. Regarded as one of the most significant achievements of the Public Works Administration, the R.F.K. Bridge is comprised of a complex of three steel bridges that connect the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens via 13,829 feet of roadway. Thousands of commuters speed over its roadways every day. Yet, despite its renown, it still holds many secrets.
1. A Sign Once Advised Travelers to Drive off the Bridge
According to New York Times columnist William Safire in 2008, the R.F.K. Bridge once held a sign, which advised travelers to drive off the bridge in the event of a nuclear attack. Since its roadway is located roughly 15 stories above the river, driving off the side of the bridge would have certainly resulted in death – surely not the route the sign intended. Safire first recalled the sign he saw in the 1950s in a 1993 Times article.
In the 2008 column, Safire also mentions the direct language used on signage that used to pepper New York City streets, like “Don’t even think of parking here” and “No Parking/No Standing/No Stopping/No Kidding.” The bridge sign, as Safire suggests, likely elicited a “wry smile” from passing motorists.