Sunday, April 20, 2014

Carroll Street Bridge - Park Slope to Carroll Gardens

Carroll Street Bridge with Carroll Gardens neighborhood in the background
Carroll Street Bridge from Park Slope Side
Carroll Street Bridge with Park Slope neighborhood in the background.
Carroll Street Bridge from Carroll Gardens Side
Designed by Robert Van Buren, the Chief Engineer of the Brooklyn Department of City Works, the Carroll Street Bridge was built between 1888 and 1889.[1] Spanning the Gowanus Canal, the bridge is the oldest example of a retractile bridge in the Untied States and the second oldest bridge in the borough of Brooklyn.[1][2] Known by a variety of names including, pull-back draw, traversing and sliding draw, retractile bridges are designed to span narrow navigable channels where other types of movable bridges are not feasible. Retractile bridges are rarely used and there are not many still in existence. They are designed to move out of the way of ships by sliding horizontally along a diagonal path into a location adjacent to the roadway.[1]


Pocket of space next to roadbed for storing the bridge while in the open position.
Pocket for Housing the Carroll Street Bridge While in the Open Position
The Carroll Street Bridge is drawn open using an electric (was steam) powered motor and cables to pull it along a set of tracks into a "pocket" adjacent to the roadbed.[3]

Carroll Street Bridge one story red brick operator's house.
Carroll Street Bridge Operator's House
Carroll Street Bridge information plaque featured on wall above entrance to operator's house.
Carroll Street Bridge Plaque on Operator's House
The Carroll Street Bridge served the communities of Park Slope and Carroll Gardens from 1889 to 1985 when it was left open due to maintenance issues. In 1989 the bridge and bridge house were rebuilt to their original specifications and service was reinstated. The original aesthetic of the structural span was restored during the bridge's overhaul and its character has been retained throughout subsequent maintenance work due to its designation as a New York City Landmark in 1987.[3]

In an interview conducted by Community School District 15 around the time the bridge was reopened in 1989, one long time resident recalls her memories of the Carroll Street Bridge. Connie Anello grew up one block from the bridge. "As a child she remembers youngsters swimming and fishing in the canal." The kids used the bridge as a platform to dive and fish from![4] It is hard to image diving and fishing in the Gowanus since it is now a Superfund site and considered one of the most polluted waterways in the country.


References:
  1. McCahon, Mary E. "Carroll Street Bridge over the Gowanus Canal" Last of the River South of the Sound.
  2. Seaton, Charles "Carroll St. Span to get b'day fixup" Daily News. 2, February 1989.
  3. "Carroll Street Bridge" A New York Centennial Bridge. NYCDOT Flier. 23, September 1989.
  4. Anello, Connie. Community School District 15 student interview. 1989.