Top 5 Facts About the George Washington Bridge

Tourists and history buffs alike love George Washington Bridge interesting facts. There are certainly no lack of fun facts about the George Washington Bridge. Here are five of the most unusual.

1. Radio Fans Save Jumper

Howard Stern fans were called into action on December 7, 1994. A young man called Stern’s radio show and announced that he was about to jump from the George Washington Bridge. Westbound listeners stopped their cars and tried to dissuade him. A Port Authority police officer, who also happened to be listening to Stern, rescued the man, then used the would-be jumper’s cell phone to tell Stern and his listeners that the man was safe.

2. Deviations From Flight Plans

Christmas Day of 1965 shocked motorists on the George Washington Bridge as a small plane sputtered down over the westbound lanes. A young pilot had skimped on his pre-flight and left the fuel cap off. An old pilots’ adage is, “A good landing is one you walk away from. A great landing is one where you can use the plane again.” This was a good landing, since the pilot and his passenger walked away with only minor injuries. It fell short of a great landing, though, since the plane was demolished. It also clipped a truck, whose driver must have had fun explaining to his dispatcher why he was late and his rig was damaged. Motorists got another aviation surprise on January 15, 2009, when US Airways Flight 1549 came bearing down on them. Pilot Chesley Sullenberger managed to clear the bridge by a mere 900 feet before ditching in the Hudson.

3. What’s in a Name?

Local newspapers called for a more inventive name than the original Hudson River Bridge. Among their suggestions were Bistate and Mother’s Bridge, Bridge of Prosperity, Gate of Paradise, and Pride of the Nation. It was the children of the New York City schools, however, that managed to lobby for a rechristening in honor of George Washington. The name is particularly apt, since the Manhattan end of the bridge is near Fort Washington, whence Washington once withdrew his forces to Fort Lee – near the New Jersey end of the bridge.

4. World’s Heaviest Traffic

The day the George Washington Bridge was opened, it hosted over 55,000 vehicles, 33,000 pedestrians, and one equestrian on a horse named Rubio. Now the bridge carries roughly 106 million vehicles annually – an average of nearly 300,000 a day, the most of any motor vehicle bridge in the world. Pedestrians, as well as roller skaters and cyclists, still traverse the upper deck.

5. Unintended Dumping Ground

With all that traffic, mishaps are inevitable. Occasionally trucks have overturned and spilled their cargo. Among the unscheduled deliveries were beer, frozen chicken parts, and watermelons. One truck liberated a herd of goats that trotted off down the lanes. Another truck treated motorists and bridge employees to free fertilizer when it failed to contain its load of manure.