You might take for granted the bridges you use for traveling to work or running errands in Jersey City, New Jersey. But did you know that some of these Garden State bridges have intriguing histories and stories? Learn more about five famous Jersey City bridges and the lore and legends surrounding them.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Pulaski Skyway is one of the most famous bridges in Jersey City. The 3.5-mile-long steel structure has two main river-crossing spans, extending an impressive 550 feet in length. Designed by Sigvald Johannesson, an engineer with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), the Pulaski Skyway takes its name from General Casimir Pulaski, who served in the American Revolutionary War. Pulaski’s cavalry, the Pulaski Legion, fought in the areas of Haddonfield, Little Egg Harbor, and Osborn’s Island during the conflict.
According to information from NJDOT, the Pulaski Skyway construction started as part of a larger 13-mile extension project for Routes 1 and 9 during the 1920s. Its construction was aimed at improving traffic flow from Newark to Jersey City. The Skyway rises above the Meadowlands, carrying Routes 1 and 9 over the Hackensack and Passaic rivers and the New Jersey Turnpike. NJDOT estimates that 74,000 vehicles per day cross the bridge en route to New York City and destinations farther north on Routes 1 and 9.
Do You Know? The spans of the Pulaski Skyway over the Hackensack and Passaic rivers provide ships navigating the waters with 135 feet of high tide clearance.
Ethel Pesin Liberty Footbridge
Opened in 2013, the Ethel Pesin Liberty Footbridge connects Jersey Avenue in downtown Jersey City to Liberty State Park. Used by bicyclists and pedestrians, the new footbridge over Mill Creek replaces the former footbridge destroyed during Hurricane Sandy’s devastation of the region in 2012.
According to a New Jersey Advance Media May 24, 2013, report , the new footbridge cost $800,000 to construct and is the only direct link between Jersey City’s downtown community and Liberty State Park.
Do You Know? Ethel Pesin, for whom this footbridge takes its name, was the wife of Liberty State Park founder Morris Pesin. Mr. Pesin championed an 18-year crusade to establish the park, which opened on June 14, 1976. Mrs. Pesin died in February 2021.
John F. Kennedy Boulevard Bridge
The John F. Kennedy (JFK) Boulevard Bridge is a two-story concrete, open-spandrel arch bridge over the Port Authority Trans-Hudson and Conrail lines on JFK Boulevard in Jersey City. According to the Rutgers University Community Repository, the bridge was built between 1924 and 1926. Engineer Abraham Burton Cohen developed the concept for the bridge, which serves as one of the landmarks for the area of Jersey City known as Journal Square. The square itself lies at the intersection of JFK Boulevard and Bergen Avenue.
Journal Square takes its name from the Jersey Journal newspaper, headquartered in Journal Square from 1911 to 2013. Throughout its history, Journal Square has served as a significant cultural, business, and entertainment district of Jersey City, home to performing arts venues such as The Stanley Theater and Loew’s Jersey Theatre, constructed between 1928 and 1929. A 1940s-era song called the “Jersey Bounce” references Journal Square in its lyrics.
Do You Know? Before being named JFK Boulevard in honor of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, the bridge’s formal name was the Hudson County Boulevard Bridge.
Ogden Avenue Bridge (The Heights)
Majestic bridges like those mentioned above may come to mind when you think of bridges in Jersey City. However, one bridge, the Ogden Avenue Bridge in The Heights, will have you rethinking what you know about Jersey City’s bridges.
At 27.9 feet long, this concrete arch bridge carries Ogden Avenue over Holland Street in The Heights, a section of Jersey City built atop the Palisades, a line of cliffs stretching along the lower Hudson River. The area overlooks Manhattan to the east and the Meadowlands to the west. Riverview-Fisk Park on Ogden Avenue offers scenic views of the New York City skyline.
According to the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy, civil engineer Thomas H. McCann designed the Ogden Avenue Bridge in 1905, and Hudson County constructed the bridge.
Do You Know? Holland Street is one of only a few remaining cobblestone streets in Jersey City. Holland Street once connected directly to Paterson Plank Road in Jersey City more than a century ago. Today, Holland Street is accessible only from Palisades Avenue.
The Wittpenn Bridge is a new addition to Jersey City’s bridge infrastructure. This bridge, which took 10 years to complete and cost half a billion dollars, opened in October 2021 and carries vehicle traffic on Route 7 in Hudson County across the Hackensack River between Jersey City and Kearny. It replaces its 91-year-old predecessor, a bridge named for Jersey City Mayor H. Otto Wittpenn, who served from 1908 to 1913 and was a member of the New Jersey State Highway Commission.
Compared to the former bridge, the new Wittpenn bridge features 12-foot-wide vehicle travel lanes, a center divider, and protected paths for bicyclists and pedestrians to safely travel across. A vertical-lift mechanism allows engineers to raise the bridge to allow ships to pass through the Hackensack River beneath.
According to a New Jersey Advance Media report , construction on the new Wittpenn Bridge began in 2011. Engineers and a bridge planning committee projected the bridge to open in 2019. However, complications arose with the bridge’s lift portion, pushing back the construction timeline. NJDOT is demolishing the old Wittpenn Bridge, a project which began in 2021.
Do You Know? The lift mechanism for the new Wittpenn Bridge traveled through the Panama Canal before reaching its destination in Jersey City.
What did you think about our list of famous bridges? What facts and stats about these Jersey City landmarks surprised you? Write to us and let us know. Our team members at New Jersey State Auto, your trusted source for used cars in Jersey City, are always eager to share the best of the community with locals and visitors to our area.