The George Washington Bridge is a toll suspension bridge spanning the Hudson River, connecting Washington Heights in the Manhattan to Fort Lee in New Jersey by means of Interstate 95, U.S. Route 1/9. U.S. Route 46 ends halfway across the bridge at the state border. Initially named the Hudson River Bridge, it was renamed in honor of George Washington, who fortified positions on both ends--Fort Washington and Fort Lee--during the American Revolutionary War. The GWB is one of the world's busiest bridges in terms of vehicle traffic. It carries over 100,404,000 vehicles annually, with current AADT daily estimates of nearly 300,000.
Groundbreaking began in October 1927, as a project of the Port of New York Authority, under chief engineer Othmar Ammann, and architect Cass Gilbert. Dedicated on October 24, 1931, and opened to traffic the following day, it had the longest main span in the world. At 1,067 m (3,500 ft) it nearly doubled the previous record held by the Ambassador Bridge, only to be eclipsed by the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937 and many others over the years, including New York's own Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964. The total length of the bridge is 1,451 m (4,760 ft).
As originally built, the bridge offered six lanes of traffic, but in 1946, two additional lanes were provided on what is now the upper level. A second, lower deck, which had been anticipated in Ammann's original plans, was added, opening to the public on August 29, 1962 and increasing capacity by 75 percent. It also originally planned for the towers to be encased in concrete and granite but cost considerations during the Great Depression and favorable aesthetic critiques of the bare steel towers, resulted in the exposed steel towers, with their distinctive criss-crossed bracing, which have become one of the bridge's most identifiable characteristics.
The George Washington Bridge is home to the world's largest free-flying American flag, which is flown on on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, and September 11. The flag, located under the upper arch of the New Jersey tower, drapes vertically for 90 feet.. The flag's stripes are approximately 5 feet wide and the stars measure about 4 feet in diameter.
The George Washington Bridge was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1981.
The George Washington Bridge was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1982.
National Register #83001645 (1983)