We Are NYIconic Hudson Valley Suspension Bridge Will Celebrate 100 Years in 2024

Time Capsule Dedicated to Celebrate Construction Starting in 1923

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the kickoff of celebrations surrounding the upcoming centennial of the Bear Mountain Bridge in 2024. Between now and fall 2024, several events and initiatives are underway to celebrate one of the Hudson Valley's most recognizable structures, including a centennial website, a documentary film and an international bridge engineering conference. Various leaders and community members joined the New York State Bridge Authority at the bridge today to make the announcement. Participants also dedicated a time capsule to mark 100 years since construction of the bridge began. 

"New York has a long history of creating world-class infrastructure that has transformed our state -- a legacy that continues to this day," Governor Hochul said. "As we begin to commemorate the centennial of the Bear Mountain Bridge, I hope residents and visitors alike continue to appreciate the importance of this beloved Hudson Valley fixture." 

Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado said, "The Bear Mountain Bridge has stood for generations, providing a gateway to some of the best outdoor recreation in the Northeast and serving as a vital route for locals and tourists alike. As we mark its centennial, let us remember our fellow New Yorkers - past, present, and future - who dream big, who build our communities, who do the impossible, and who make this place live up to its nickname of 'The Empire State.'" 

The Bear Mountain Bridge was dedicated on November 26, 1924. It was a groundbreaking engineering achievement for its time, being the first vehicular bridge over the Hudson River south of Albany and the first suspension bridge with a concrete deck. For a brief period, it also held the title of "bridge with the longest suspended central span in the world." Many consider the innovations with the Bear Mountain Bridge to have spurred a boom in bridge building in New York State and the entire country in the years following. 

The bridge was originally built by a private enterprise, the Bear Mountain Hudson River Bridge Company, which had connections with the prominent Harriman family who helped preserve Bear Mountain State Park and other nearby public lands. Construction began in spring 1923 and lasted 20 months, without a single loss of life. Once opened, the bridge offered users of the increasingly popular automobile a more direct connection to the nearby state park. 

At the time the bridge opened in 1924, the roundtrip toll for a passenger car was $1.60, with surcharges for passengers. Starting May 1, 2023, the roundtrip toll will be $1.65 for E-ZPass drivers and $2.15 for Tolls by Mail customers, regardless of the number of passengers. 

In September 1940, the New York State Bridge Authority (NYSBA) acquired the bridge, which is currently NYSBA's southernmost bridge. In 2018, the bridge received the ceremonial designation of "Purple Heart Veterans Memorial" Bear Mountain Bridge, in honor of Purple Heart recipients and in recognition of the area's rich military history.

The bridge is situated at the junction of four counties: Orange and Rockland on the west side of the river and Westchester and Putnam on the east side. In addition to serving over 7 million vehicles a year, the bridge is also the Hudson River crossing point for the Appalachian Trail, a national hiking route that traverses over 2,000 miles between Maine and Georgia. 

 New York State Bridge Authority Executive Director Dr. Minosca Alcantara said, "A century after it was first constructed, the Bear Mountain Bridge continues to stand proudly over the Hudson River thanks to the Bridge Authority's preventive maintenance program. At the end of the day, this centennial is a celebration of the hardworking men and women who have built, maintained, and protected this bridge so that it can enter a new century of service to the Hudson Valley."

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "We at State Parks congratulate the Bridge Authority for helping people every day connect with family, friends and colleagues. We rely on their work, marvel at their engineering and are grateful to be included as this time capsule at Bear Mountain connects us into the next 100 years."

New York State Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy said, "The Office of General Services (OGS) is excited to join the Bridge Authority in kicking off the Bear Mountain Bridge's centennial celebration. OGS's contribution to the time capsule includes a newspaper and a piece of sandstone connected to the upcoming and history-making carving of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's likeness in the New York State Capitol. These items honor New York's status as the birthplace of the women's rights movement and pay tribute to State agencies and authorities' essential role as stewards of our State's iconic landmarks."

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "The Bear Mountain Bridge was an engineering marvel when it was first constructed, and the fact that we are celebrating its centennial is a testament to what can be accomplished with resilient, sustainable infrastructure. This historic bridge has become an indelible part of the Hudson Valley landscape and by honoring this century-long achievement with a time capsule, we are laying a strong foundation for the next 100 years of engineering innovation."

New York State Bridge Authority Board of Commissioners Chair Joan McDonald said, "Ever since the Bridge Authority took ownership of the bridge in 1940, the NYSBA Board of Commissioners has worked to ensure the Bear Mountain Bridge remains a safe, reliable, and affordable river crossing for the residents and visitors of the Hudson Valley. As we dedicate this time capsule, we recommit ourselves to this mission to ensure that travelers 100 years from now can continue to experience this beloved span and the beautiful region it calls home." 

Congressman Mike Lawler said, "As we celebrate the Centennial Anniversary of the Bear Mountain Bridge, we recognize the immense significance this iconic landmark holds for the Lower Hudson Valley. It has been a vital link between the counties of Orange, Rockland, Westchester, and Putnam, connecting communities and fostering economic growth in the Hudson Valley for a century. The Bear Mountain Bridge has truly stood the test of time and we look forward to many more years of its service to our region."

State Senator Pete Harckham said, "A time capsule is our direct communication to future generations, relaying to them our accomplishments, hopes and dreams, as well as a glimpse of our own time. I am honored to have been invited to include in this time capsule some of the State Senate's important endeavors, which are designed to help the New Yorkers of tomorrow."

State Senator Robert G. Rolison said, "The Bear Mountain Bridge has been moving people and goods for almost a century. This historic span serves our constituents while providing breathtaking views of the Hudson Highlands and its environs. I'm grateful to the men and women who keep this southernmost NYSBA span safe and maintained, offering a critical link to four counties of our Hudson Valley region," said Senator Rob Rolison"

Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg said, "I am pleased to be able to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Bear Mountain Bridge with contributions to this very special time capsule. My predecessor, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, sponsored the law that designated this bridge the Purple Heart Veterans Memorial Bear Mountain Bridge, acknowledging the importance of Purple Heart Veterans and the bridge itself to this region. With appropriate funding and care, I hope this bridge remains in operation for many more years to come."

Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne said, "The Bear Mountain Bridge holds a special place in my heart. I believe it to be home to the most beautiful views in the entire Hudson Valley and it's also where I proposed to my wife. It is truly a landmark worthy of celebration and I know Putnam County residents who use the bridge regularly appreciate the majesty it offers."

Rockland County Executive Ed Day said, "I am delighted to be here today for the time capsule dedication as we gear up to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the construction of the Bear Mountain Bridge that connects the Hudson Valley region. The latest issue of the Rockland County Travel Guide will be included in the capsule, and it will be exciting to see how our area has evolved in another 100 years from now. On behalf of all Rocklanders, Rockland County is proud to be a part of this special historical moment in time."

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, "As we kick off the celebrations for the centennial of the Bear Mountain Bridge, we honor the ingenuity and hard work that went into constructing this iconic structure. The bridge has connected Westchester County with other communities and fostered commerce for generations. It has served as a symbol of resilience and growth for a century. Let us look forward to the future with the same determination and innovation that built this magnificent bridge."

Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus said, "This time capsule is a fitting way to recognize the 100th anniversary of the Bear Mountain Bridge. The bridge is an incredible asset to the Hudson Valley and showcases its beautiful landscape. Orange County is here to support the New York State Bridge Authority to make sure that the Bear Mountain Bridge is remembered when this time capsule is opened."

Executive Director of Historic Bridges of the Hudson Valley Kathryn Burke said, "If studying the history of the iconic structure of the Bear Mountain Bridge has taught us anything, it has taught us that excellent maintenance, provided by the Bridge Authority since it began operating and maintaining this beautiful bridge in 1940, has enabled the Bear Mountain Bridge to be ready to enter its next century in great shape! Building an incredible bridge is just the beginning; keeping it incredible is the secret to having great infrastructure."

Superintendent of the Peekskill City School District Dr. David Mauricio said, "On behalf of the Peekskill Board of Education and my team, I would like to thank the NYS Bridge Authority for including our students in this project. It is truly an honor to have our Hillcrest scholars be a part of the Bear Mountain Bridge centennial celebrations, especially as we as a school district are celebrating our own 100-year anniversary. The fact that our children's letters will be opened a century from now continues the historical relationship between the Bear Mountain Bridge and our great school district. Not many people know that the same architect that built the bridge toll houses, Antonio Renza, also built our current administration building, as well as Drum Hill, which was once Peekskill High School. This was a wonderful opportunity for our students to not only learn about local history, but to become a part of it as well."

Historic Bridges of the Hudson Valley board member Tara Sullivan said, "Here stands the iconic symbol of the New York State Bridge Authority's long-practiced mantra: 'maintenance deferred is maintenance denied.' The Bear Mountain Bridge is in the very best condition possible thanks to the dedicated practice of on-going maintenance by the superlative and experienced staff of this independent regional authority. Onward to the next 100 years and bravo to NYSBA for memorializing this historic feat with a time capsule!"

Time Capsule Dedication

Today at the bridge, NYSBA leadership joined other state agencies, elected officials, and community members to dedicate a time capsule in honor of 100 years since construction of the bridge started. A number of items were contributed to the capsule, including letters from Governor Hochul and Lieutenant Governor Delgado, artifacts related to the Harriman family, written memories of the bridge, and various mementos from the Bridge Authority and the Hudson Valley region. Also included are letters to the future written by 4th grade students at Hillcrest Elementary School in Peekskill. 

The time capsule was sealed by NYSBA's longest-serving employee, John Brooks. A resident of Ulster County, Mr. Brooks first worked as a toll collector at the Mid-Hudson Bridge starting in September 1966. Since retiring from full-time service in 1997, Mr. Brooks has stayed on as a part-time employee at NYSBA headquarters in Highland, NY, dedicating over 56 years of service to the Authority. 

The time capsule will be mounted in the bridge's west anchorage and will be reopened 100 years from now in April 2123. The space is located in the basement of the bridge's historic administration building and is home to the Richy Vacek Bear Mountain Bridge Museum. The space, named in memory of a retired bridge foreman, is home to a small museum and classroom area that is open to schools and other groups by appointment. 

New Centennial Website Launched 

The Bridge Authority has launched a new website dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the bridge: www.bmb100.com. Visitors there can access information about centennial-related events, share memories, and view archival materials. Most notably, film footage of the construction of the bridge taken in October 1924 is being featured on the website, thanks to the preservation efforts of the Moving Image Research Collection at the University of South Carolina. 

Further details about the centennial-related events will be posted on the website as they become available.

Documentary Film Under Development

A documentary film, expected to be about one hour in duration, is also under development. The film project is a collaborative effort between the Bridge Authority, the nonprofit Historic Bridges of the Hudson Valley and local videographer Scott Snell of SDS Imagery. 

International Engineering Conference Coming to the Hudson Valley

The Hudson Valley has been selected as the location for the 2024 conference for the International Cable Supported Bridge Operators Association (ICSBOA). The 12th edition of the conference is set to take place from October 6-10, 2024, at the United States Military Academy at West Point. It is expected to bring together engineers and bridge operators from around the world and will showcase the Bear Mountain Bridge during its centennial year. 

ICSBOA focuses on helping its members maintain and sustain cable supported bridge infrastructure by sharing insights and expertise in operations and preventive maintenance. Cable supported bridges include suspension bridges like NYSBA's Bear Mountain Bridge and Mid-Hudson Bridge. The main forum for the exchange of best practices is through the International Cable Supported Bridge Operators Conference (ICSBOC), which is held every two to three years at locations around the world. The most recent ICSBOC took place in November 2022 in Kobe, Japan. 

The conference has particular significance for NYSBA and the Hudson Valley. While ICSBOA was formally established as an organization in 2013, its gatherings date back to 1991, when NYSBA brought together over 100 engineers and bridge owners to Poughkeepsie, NY to discuss ways to strengthen suspension cables on the Mid-Hudson Bridge and other cable supported bridges. A second conference was held in 2000 centered around the Bear Mountain Bridge, followed by subsequent conferences held at rotating locations around the world every two or three years. 

About the New York State Bridge Authority

The New York State Bridge Authority operates the Bear Mountain, Newburgh-Beacon, Mid-Hudson, Kingston-Rhinecliff and Rip Van Winkle Bridges. It also owns and maintains the structure of the Walkway Over the Hudson pedestrian bridge. The Authority receives no operating funding through state or federal tax dollars, with nearly all of its revenue coming through tolls. Tolls are reinvested back into capital improvements on the Authority's spans, ensuring these critical pieces of infrastructure can continue serving the Hudson Valley for decades to come.