Jan 12, 2018 in Research

Hell-Gate Bridge

The construction of the Hell-Gate Bridge began in 1912. The New York Connecting Railroad Company was responsible for controlling the entire exercise of constructing the bridge, and the Pennsylvania Railroad provided funds to ensure that the project was constructed as envisaged by designers and engineers in charge of the construction. Moreover, Gustav Lindenthal oversaw the construction of the bridge, and it is asserted that his initial design left a 15 feet gap between the steel arch and the masonry towers.  The entire process of constructing the Hell-Bridge ended in 1916 and the bridge was the largest in the world until the opening of the Bayonne Bridge in 1931. Again, the Sydney Harbor Bridge that had derived its inspiration from the design of the Hell-Gate Bridge surpassed it in 1932. It is significant to note that the Hell-Gate Bridge extends all the way from Astoria in the Queens, to the Randall’s Islands which are part of Manhattan, and finally to the Bronx in the New York City. Passenger and freight trucks utilize the bridge to make transportation more efficient between places such as Boston and Washington, D.C. The Hell-Gate Bridge underwent significant face lift in 1996, and its appearance was improved through renovations and painting. Numerous improvements have been carried out over the years to ensure that the Hell-Gate Bridge remains as strong as possible. The steel used to make the bridge ensures that it is firm and able to withstand the weight of both passenger trucks and freight trucks that pass there regularly. Currently, the bridge is utilized by Amtrak, Canadian Pacific, CSX, Providence and Worcester Road, and the New York and Atlantic Road freight trains. Amtrak owns the bridge and the structure and controls operations. The Hell-Gate Bridge remains a significant feature in the New York City facilitating transportation of both people and freight.

This paper explicates various aspects relating to the Hell-Gate Bridge including its construction and the manner in which it could have appeared if it were built today.

Built Environment

The idea to construct the Hell-Gate Bridge was conceived in the early 1910s with the urgent need to connect New York to the Pennsylvanian Road with New England, and the New Haven Railroad. It is worth noting that the construction of the Hell-Gate Bridge started on 1 March, 1912, and the entire process of construction was completed on 30 September, 1916. At the time of construction up, the Hell-Gate Bridge emerged as the world’s longest bridge made of steel until 1931 (Cudahy 54). The construction of the Sydney Harbor Bridge in 1932 replaced the first position held by the Hell-Gate Bridge as it became the world’s longest bridge. Subsequent facelift measures carried out in 1996 helped improve the quality of the Hell-Gate Bridge as it was painted with a natural dark-red color. The bridge remains strong and effective currently, and some individuals predict that it could collapse after about 300 years.

The Hell-Gate Bridge was constructed from Astoria in the borough of Queens through the Randall’s Islands that are politically regarded as part of Manhattan, to the Bronx in New York City. It is also vital to note that the Hell-Gate Bridge passes through a portion of the East River commonly referred to as Hell Gate. The bride was intended at improving the speed of movement between these places hence ensuring that passengers got to their destinations within the required period of time. It is asserted that passengers paid more when using the bridge compared to the normal routes that they had gotten used to. Notably, the bridge also runs parallel to the Queens portion of RFK-Triborough Bridge. With these significant connections, drivers are able to see the east side of the bridge clearly and are able to drive safely along the bridge. The connection of these places was necessary to facilitate faster transportation of individuals between different places such as Boston and Washington, DC. The Hell-Gate Bridge also connects these different places hence facilitating significant transportation of freight from one place to another.

It is significant to note that the Hell-Gate Bridge is arch-shaped and extends 1,107-foot (310m) from Astoria in the borough of Queens, through the Randall’s Islands and The Bronx in the New York City. This extension helps in facilitating effective transportation of both people and freight from one place to another. Again, the great arch bridge is taken as the largest of these three bridges as it is more than 17,000 feet (5.2km) (DeLony 76). The long spans and viaducts are responsible for the enormous extensions of this part of the bridge. The Hell-Gate Bridge also has an inverted bowstring truss bridge that has four spans each of 300-foot (91.4M). It is asserted that these spans cross the Little Hell-Gate, and there is also a 350-foot (106.7M) fixed truss bridge which crosses the Bronx Kill (Reier 44). The significant extensions of the bridge inspired the construction of the Sydney Harbor Bridge that was also aimed at facilitating effective transport for both passengers and freight.

The Hell-Gate Bridge was constructed during the Progressive Era in the United States of America. This is the type of the civilization that was in place at the time and was aimed at social activism and political reform in the country. During this period, the Progressive movement was in place, and it was aimed at revamping all systems in the United States of America. It was geared toward promoting economic, political, social, and cultural progress in the United States of America. Members of the Progressive Movement were aimed at modernizing America during this period and reform any element that was seen as not beneficial for the development of individuals in the United States of America. The Hell-Gate Bridge came in the period of the Progressive Era as reformists looked for significant ways to improve the American society and ensure that it kept with the developments that were occurring in most parts of Europe. In fact, the Progressive Era was aimed at ensuring that the lives of individuals were improved at all instances, and people were able to lead better lives at the wake of each day (Twomey 88). Therefore, the Hell-Gate Bridge was constructed during the Progressive Era that was aimed at giving the US a new picture and ensuring that it developed excellently in line with the emerging needs in society.

The pop culture was in place at the time of the construction of the bridge. Everyone was living the American Dream and was focused on ensuring that the country moved effectively toward the attainment of its goals. The pop culture was prevalent in this era and was always focused on ensuring that all parts of America accessed the best resources that would play a significant role in boosting the overall growth in the country. The pop culture was existing during this period when everyone was keen on developments and wanted to ensure that America is reconstructed to achieve the best image even in the outside world. It is significant to note that the pop culture was dominant in the United States, and its key motive was to push the country to greater heights at all instances. With the belief in the American Dream of development and continuous achievement, the country got a lifeline, and everyone was eager to allow the country reach the desirable levels of development. The bridge also had to be made in such a manner that it could satisfy the cultural requirements of the people living in this area and appeal to their desires and likes about architecture. This exemplifies the reason why Gustav Lindethal had to change the design of the bridge in order to reflect a proper impression that would appeal to the public adequately. The bridge was made in the most proper manner possible to appeal to the public and ensure that it suits the desires and expectations of the populace.

The Process of Building

Steel is the key material that was used in the construction of the bridge. It is significant to note that the designers of the bridge chose steel over other materials because of the feeling that the bridge needed to last for many years and serve members across different generations effectively. Steel was also preferred because of its ability to withstand most of the environmental conditions. Considering the fact that the bridge was going to be utilized by heavy passenger and freight trains, it was vital to use steel in its construction to ensure that it withstood the pressures emanating from the heaviness of these trains. Steel was also preferred because of the significant strength to support and withstand the weight of both individuals and heavy luggage over a long period. Steel is a hard metal and was extremely relevant in the construction of the bridge to ensure that the Hell-Gate Bridge remained firm and avert any form of accidents emanating from the use of the bridge. The use of steel in the construction of the bridge has left many individuals projecting the bridge think that it could last for at least 300 years and serve different people in different capacities in the country. Concrete was also used to reinforce and strengthen the bridge hence ensuring that it was able to withstand the weight of heavy locomotives that were targeted to use the bridge in the transportation of both passengers and freight. Gustav preferred the use of these two key materials because of the wide engineering skills and knowledge that he possessed and the belief that people required structures that would serve them for a longer period.

The construction of the Hell-Gate Bridge entailed the employment of the current technologies. Gustav was an experienced engineer and was focused on ensuring that the Hell-Gate Bridge had both aesthetic and qualitative values to support the operations of the public across the New York City. Therefore, he employed the current methods in the construction of the bridge including significant sections such as the Hell Gate span that crossed the Hell Gate portion of the East River and passing through the Randall’s Islands (Cudahy 81). Additionally, the current methods utilized in the construction of the Hell-Gate Bridge ensured that it had four concrete that were 250 m high and served as portals to the arch of the bridge. This had aesthetic value and also played a significant role in strengthening the entire bridge and ensuring that it was able to withstand the heavy locomotives over a long period. The Hell-Gate Bridge was also made in the sense that it had an inverted bowstring truss bridge. This method of construction ensured that it linked different places effectively and ensured effective transportation between these places. Gustav was a focused engineer and aimed at utilizing the current engineering designs that would give the bridge the best appearance ever.

The construction of the bridge entailed the use of significant tools and equipment, for instance, there were protective helmets for workers at the bridge; there were heavy trucks used in the transfer of materials; hammers were also used in fixing certain parts of the bridge; masonry measurement tapes were also utilized to determine the required lengths. Masonry gloves were also utilized in the construction of the bridge to ensure that workers were protected adequately from any form of injury. All these tools were aimed at protecting workers and ensuring that they performed their duties as required. These equipment and tools were selected with the aim of ensuring that there was smooth flow of the work at the bridge and that the desired targets in the construction of the bridge were achieved as required. For instance, helmets were utilized by construction workers to ensure that all forms of accidents were prevented, and workers on the ground were able to work accordingly. Trucks were utilized in the transportation of concrete and steel to the site of construction hence ensuring that the required materials were available and the work at the bridge continued as projected. Notably, hammers were also used in the construction of the bridge, and they were used in the fixation of different parts of the bridge hence ensuring that it was strengthened all through. With such equipment and tools, workers were ready to work on the bridge according to the demands of engineering designs asserted by Gustav.

It is vital to note that at the beginning, Gustav Lienthal recruited a staff of 95 engineers because of the feeling that they had massive experience in the determination of the required design and nature of the bridge (DeLony 101). These engineers were charged with the responsibility of calculating the manner in which the different parts of the bridge would be able to bear the different heights of locomotives using the bridge. These engineers were also charged with the responsibility of determining the number of masons that would be required in the construction of the bridge hence assuring that it achieved the required design. Gustav was focused on ensuring that the bridge came out with the best design possible and was motivated to keep the spirit of the aesthetic value of the bridge alive. The recruited engineers determined that at least 1,800 workers were required to make sure that the bridge was constructed effectively. This labor force was deemed effective and vital for the construction of the bridge hence facilitating easier sharing of work among individuals. This labor force was also adequate because it could complete the work of constructing the bridge within the required span. Gustav wanted the number of workers determined in order to make it easier for him to divide the construction of the bridge in different phases as required and ensure that the work was completed within the required time. The large labor force accommodated during the construction of the bridge was also vital because it ensured that efficiency was achieved in the process of constructing the Hell-Gate Bridge.

If the Hell-Gate Bridge were Built Today

Technology is an emerging issue, and it keeps changing across different generations. The technology utilized by Gustav in the construction of the Hell-Gate Bridge from 1912 to 1916 is not the same technology that would have been employed by construction engineers in the contemporary world. First, it is significant to point out that the Hell-Gate Bridge would have more aesthetic value in case it were built today. The aesthetic value of the bridge would differ significantly from the value desired by Gustav. For instance, there would have been more decorations on the bridge, and it would have had more suspensions, and more beautiful colors would have been used to decorate it hence bringing out the desirable architectural designs.

The bridge could also have adopted a different shape in case it was made today. The Hell-Gate Bridge is arch-shaped, and this shape was seen as the most significant and appealing shape during this period. The bridge would have probably embraced another shape, such as a straight-line shape in case it were built today. This would have depended on the reasoning of the current engineers and their determination of the best shape for a bridge. The Hell-Gate Bridge could have probably embraced another shape that would also have contributed ton adding to its aesthetic value and made it more effective to serve the required purposes. The shape of the bridge could have been different because of the continuous instances of changing designs and preferences among engineers over time. Thus, it would have been made in a shape that it perceived more relevant to the current systems and more appealing to the current generation.

Additionally, the bridge would have had more lanes for trains in case it were built today. During the construction of the bridge in 1912, it was determined that it could accommodate 60 locomotives at one time hence boosting effective transportation of both passengers and freight. The population has changed over time, and the population available in 1912 cannot be compared with the current population implying that the demands in the current world are different from the demands in the time of constructing the bridge (Reier). The rising number of people in the current world would have called for improved construction of the bridge to accommodate more locomotives and facilitate better transportation among individuals. For example, the bridge could accommodate about 100 locomotives at one time in case it were built today. This is in line with the need to embrace and satisfy the changing demands in the rising population in the current world. Everyone would want to be satisfied to the maximum and to ensure this, the bridge could have been made in such a manner that it was able to accommodate more locomotives that would have transferred passengers and freight from one place to another. This development could have been included because of the urge to satisfy the rising populations in the New York City and other surrounding places. Additionally, the bridge could have been made to accommodate more locomotives because of the increased trade in the current world. Therefore, the bridge could have been made with much effectiveness to accommodate more weight.

The coloring of the bridge could have been competed immediately in case the bridge were built today. It is asserted that the coloring of the Hell-Gate Bridge was not completed as the Amtrak President Graham Clayton claimed that there was no need coloring the bridge because it already had an effective structural design that made it look excellent (Twomey 110). The Amtrak president was of the view that the coloring of the bridge was not necessity as it could only lead to the waste of resources. If the bridge were to be constructed today, it would have been colored immediately to make it more appealing and more attractive to all individuals. Effective colors would be utilized in ensuring that the bridge is effectively colored and made to maintain a superb appearance from its construction. The world today wants completeness in all types of works assigned to individuals and could have demanded more coloring to make the bridge superb.

Last, the bridge could be higher that it is in case it were built today. Engineers would have resolved to make the bridge longer and give it more height that would make it be seen from greater distances. It would be made in such a manner that individuals from far can have a clear view of the bridge hence reiterating its significance in enhancing transportation in the United States of America. It could have been made to remain the longest and highest bridge in the world because of the need to indicate the superb work performed by engineers. The bridge could have remained ahead of other bridges hence ensuring that it is seen by populations from greater distances.

In conclusion, the Hell-Gate Bridge extends from Astoria in the borough of Queens through the Randall’s Island to the Bronx in New York City. Several companies such as Amtrak, Providence and Worcester Road, Canadian Pacific, and the New York and Atlantic freight trains are the notable users of the bridge. The bridge facilitates smooth transportation of people and goods from one place to another along the places linked by the bridge. Significant materials such as steel and concrete were employed in the construction of the bridge hence boosting its strength. Steel was used because of its strong nature and its ability to withstand the changes in climatic conditions. With the use of such key materials, individuals are of the view that the bridge would last for about 300 years. It has the capacity of accommodating 60 locomotives and ensuring that people and goods are transported effectively. In cases where the bridge were built today, it would probably accommodate more locomotives and boost the transportation on the increasing population in the New York City and other surrounding places. Therefore, the Hell-Gate Bridge remains a vital part of the New York City and has played an instrumental role in improving commercial activities through the transportation of people and commodities from one place to another.

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