FORT MONTGOMERY – In celebration of 99 years since the Bear Mountain Bridge opened for public use, the New York State Bridge Authority (NYSBA) has unveiled a recreation of a 1924 photograph of construction crews and others taken from the deck of the bridge prior to its opening. The photo was taken by Scott Snell of SDS Imagery, a filmmaker and producer based in Beacon, NY. He was commissioned by the nonprofit Historic Bridges of the Hudson Valley (HBHV) for the photograph and has been working with HBHV on a documentary currently under development about the bridge’s history.
On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, 1924, the Bear Mountain Bridge was opened to the general public after being formally dedicated the day prior. 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 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. Originally built by a private enterprise funded by the Harriman family, the bridge would come under the ownership of NYSBA in 1940.
Sometime during the late phases of construction in 1924, workers and others affiliated with the project posed for a photograph, both on the steel tower and on the deck below. Not much is known about who is in the original photo or who was behind the camera. However, it resurfaced nearly a century later, when local historian Frank Goderre came across it and brought it to the attention of NYSBA and HBHV.
On Nov. 17, 2023, over 100 people gathered at the bridge to recreate the photograph, representing NYSBA, HBHV, and other local partners like New York State Parks and State Park Police, New York State Police, the United States Military Academy at West Point, and other special guests. Special attention was given to recreate certain elements of the original photograph as well. NYSBA maintenance staff – now donning modern-day protective gear – were positioned on the steel tower to mimic the poses from 1924. The new photo also paid homage to a dog featured in the 1924 photograph with the inclusion of Duke, the furry companion of Bear Mountain’s Assistant Foreman Scott Annacone.
Video footage from the event is anticipated to be included in the documentary. More information regarding the documentary and additional centennial events in the works and will be posted on www.bmb100.com over the next year.