Pelham Bay Bridge centennial celebration

Celebrants dressed in clothing like people wore in 1908 for a ride across the bridge in a horse drawn carriage. Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined them in celebrating the centennial of the Pelham Bay Bridge. ( l-r) Tanya Kraemer, Diaz, Tom Vasti, and Amanda Kraemer at the foot of the Pelham Bay Bridge during the festivities. Photo by Victor Chu

A celebration including a procession led by a marching band, Clydesdale horse and horse-drawn carriage celebrated 100 years of the Pelham Bay Bridge, on June 17.

The drawbridge serves as a vital link between Pelham Parkway and parts of Pelham Bay Park, Orchard Beach and City Island. It was completed in 1908, but the event celebrating its longevity took place this year after a cancelation due to bad weather stopped the celebration last year.

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., NYC Bridge Centennial Commission co-founder Barry Schneider, representatives of the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Transportation were on hand as the sights and sounds of a horse-drawn carriage making its way over the bridge recalled an era when the bridge first opened.

“Bridges are important links between communities and the Pelham Bay Bridge is a vital connection between the amenities in the northern part of Pelham Bay Park and the nautical community of City Island,” said Diaz. “This bridge is a piece of our borough’s history and recently was used by the residents of City Island during the fight to avoid the closing of Ladder 53,” he added.

Along with the Pelham Bay Bridge, the NYC Bridge Centennial Commission has already celebrated the 100th anniversary of the University Heights Bridge in the Bronx in 2008, and will soon celebrate the centennial of the Madison Avenue Bridge, which links E. 138th Street in the Bronx with Manhattan, in 2010.

Linking two parts of Pelham Bay Park at where the Hutchinson River and Eastchester Bay meet, the four-lane bridge carriers both automobile and pedestrian traffic.

The 80-foot-span of Pelham Bay Bridge replaced a wooden bridge that had been located nearby. Work began on the bridge on August 9, 1906 and it was opened to traffic on October 15, 1908.

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