Today, the New York and New Jersey State Quarter Coins remember the opening of the Arthur Kill Bridge on June 13, 1888.
From the Scientific American of June 30, 1888:
We illustrate in the present issue the great draw bridge spanning the Arthur Kill and connecting the States of New Jersey and New York.
The inlet or strait which it crosses runs between Staten Island, which constitutes Richmond County, N. Y., and the opposite shores of New Jersey.
The stream is about 600 feet in available width at the point where the bridge is erected.
Were the shores of New York harbor to be inspected with a view to finding the best frontage for public stores and wharves, no better locality could be selected, as regards the water front, than the shores of Staten Island.
But hitherto this region has not been available for these purposes for lack of railroad communication.
The new bridge, which is designed to afford a way for the great trunk railroads to reach the shore in question, will, therefore, play a most important part in the development of the port of New York.
Five to ten miles of additional water front, it is calculated, will be opened up by it.
The Baltimore and Ohio, the New Jersey Central, the New York, West Shore, and Buffalo, with other roads, are among the probable users of the bridge.
The structure was erected by the Staten Island Rapid Transit Company.
It was authorized by act of Congress of June 16, 1886, and two years were allotted for its completion.
On June 13, 1888, a party of engineers and promoters of the scheme visited the place, and the great draw was swung around from open to closed position, and the kill was crossed by a bridge for the first time only three days before the limit assigned by the charter.
The bridge, being owned by an independent corporation, will be open to traffic under similar conditions to those offered by the Poughkeepsie bridge.
Any railroad wishing to use it can do so on payment of the regular tolls.
This arrangement removes from it any aspect of monopoly, and tends to make it a public benefit in every sense.
Some very interesting litigation was evolved by the erection.
The bridge, it will be noticed, is an interstate bridge, and was erected under Federal authorization.
The plans and location were subject to the approval of the Secretary of War of the United States.
He held them under consideration for nine months, and eventually approved them without modification.
The work was at once commenced, only to be delayed an additional six months by an injunction.
This was procured by the State of New Jersey, represented by Gov. Green, the proceedings being in charge of Attorney General Stockton.
On argument this impediment was disposed of in the United States Circuit Court by Justice Bradley.
He decided against the injunction, holding that Congress had the constitutional right to regulate commerce, even though the States directly concerned might be opposed to its action.
The decision has attracted much attention, and may yet be of much importance.
The two years allowed for the completion of the work were very seriously abridged by these causes, and the completion of the structure within the specified time, without any extension being asked for, is a matter for congratulation to all directly concerned in the work.
The trusses and drawbridge are carried upon five piers of masonry.
These are built of the best material, Lake Champlain granite of the first quality being adopted.
Much trouble was experienced in laying them, as a solid foundation was only reached with great difficulty.
The entire length of the bridge proper, exclusive of approaches, is eight hundred feet.
It comprises two shore spans, covered by fixed trusses, and two draw spans, closed by the great drawbridge.
Each shore span is one hundred and fifty feet long.
The draw bridge is the largest now in existence.
Its total length is five hundred feet.
On each side of its central pier it affords, when open, clear waterways of two hundred and eight feet width.
It will require about two minutes to open or close it.
The lower chords of the trusses are thirty feet above the water line.
The cost of the structure was $450,000.
In the eight hundred feet of bridge thus composed, the link is far from complete.
On the New Jersey shore numerous lines of railroad and fillings for the various companies who are to use the bridge have to be included in the system.
On the Staten Island shore a most extensive work is in progress, designed to afford an approach to the bridge.
This will commence about one-half mile from Erastina, and will be five thousand seven hundred feet long. This alone will cost $70,000.
The iron work was pushed with great rapidity, and under considerable apprehensions at times of delay from strikes.
Fortunately these apprehensions proved needless.
In four weeks the draw span was put together. Two weeks more were required for the installation of the machinery.
The draw contains six hundred and fifty-six tons, and each of the approaches contains eighty-five tons of metal.
The whole will be finished as regards approaches, track, etc., it is hoped, by the end of August, and early in September trains will probably be running across the bridge.
The contractors for the masonry are Messrs. Boller & McGaw, of this city, who have erected much important work, and who are now engaged in the building of the bridge over the Thames at New London, Conn.
The superintending engineer is Mr. Charles Ackenheil.
The Keystone Bridge Company has supplied the iron work.
It is gratifying to note that not a single life was lost in the erection.
In too many cases the march of progress is marred by deaths from accidents incidental to such works as the present, but the Arthur Kill bridge is completed without any such stain.
The New Jersey and New York State Quarter Coins show with an 1888 image of the Arthur Kill Bridge.