THERE’S NO INNERBRIDGE, EITHER

1. Yup, it’s still Wednesday, June 29, 2016.

2. When you’re schlepping from Long Island and southern New Jersey, and cutting through the mess that is Staten Island, you might be curious about the Outerbridge Crossing.

It goes from the southwest part of Staten Island to Perth Amboy, N.J., and connects to the Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway and Interstate 287, which goes all the way back to New York state.

The temptation is to think that the bridge is named because it’s the furthest from civilization – meaning Brooklyn and Manhattan.

3. But it turns out the Outerbridge Crossing is actually named for somebody.

I know this because once, while sitting in one of those traffic jams that make traveling through Staten Island like one of the levels of the Inferno that Virgil showed Dante, I saw a plaque. The plaque said the bridge was named for Eugenius H. Outerbridge – yes, that’s his name. He was the first head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that runs the bridges and tunnels that connect the two states.

When they built the bridge, they named it the Arthur Kill Bridge. While that, in fact, does sound like a bridge named for someone, it wouldn’t have been. Arthur Kill is the translation from the Dutch name for the body of water between Staten Island and New Jersey.

It opened on this date 88 years ago, along with its twin, the Goethals Bridge, about 10 miles up the kill.  

When Outerbridge died a few years later, they renamed the bridge for him. But the Outerbridge Bridge sounds like something out of a British children’s story. So they came up with the Outerbridge Crossing.

4. And, by some chance, if you ever take one of my  journalism classes, the Outerbridge Crossing and the Goethals are correct answers to the extra credit question I ask every semester: Name three bridges between New York and New Jersey other than the George Washington. The third is the Bayonne Bridge.

To my students, the Lincoln Tunnel and Holland Tunnel remain unacceptable answers. Because they’re tunnels.

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