Built in 1921 to complete New York's first north-south automobile highway along the Hudson River's West Shore, the Kingston-Port Ewen suspension bridge is an important engineering accomplishment associated with the development of early motoring. A prominent visual landmark, nothing could have pleased the citizens of Kingston and their cross-creek neighbors of Port Ewen more than when the bridge finally opened. For decades, those who wished to cross the creek at the South entrance to Kingston had to embark on a chain ferry named the Skillypot, a derivative of a Dutch word for tortoise, which the ferry resembled. The concept of a bridge spanning the Rondout Creek stemmed from local dissatisfaction with the Skillypot's sporadic service. Hampered by local political and financial difficulties, construction on the bridge was put off until 1916, when the material demands of World War I deferred construction again until 1920. Construction began again in 1920, and slowly the 1,145-foot suspension bridge took form, linking both sides of the water with a roadway 85 feet above the creek. The construction of the bridge took about 1 year, during which the contractors employed a woman as a welder--commonplace during World War II, but unheard of in 1920. Ten thousand people attended the bridge's dedication on November 2, 1921. Eventually, the emerging dominance of the automobile would circumvent Kingston's roles as a transportation center. Today, the Kingston-Port Ewen suspension bridge still offers transportation across the Rondout Creek, a permanent and impressive blend of engineering and art.
Kingston-Port Ewen Suspension Bridge
Photograph by John E. Reinhardt
Kingston-Port Ewen Suspension Bridge, 1922.
Photograph courtesy of John F. Mathhews
The Kingston-Port Ewen Suspension Bridge crosses the Rondout Creek at the foot of Wurts Street, linking Kingston to the hamlet of Port Ewen.