Last Friday, Dr. Berliner’s AP Physics class took a trip to the George Washington Bridge. When we first arrived, we were introduced to our Guide, Andrea Giorgi Bocker, who works as engineer of construction for the George Washington Bridge and Bus Station, a division of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. After graduating from Manhattan College, she earned a Masters in Engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology and a professional engineering licensure in New York and in New Jersey in order to enable her to work in both states. We had a quick question and answer session in which she explained some of the physics behind the building of the bridge, followed by the screening of an old video detailing the making of the George Washington Bridge. Segments of this video along with commentary can be seen on YouTube. While we saw the original silent video accompanied only by Ms. Bocker’s commentary, various engineers narrate this clip.
After the video, we took a short ride from the Administrative Building to the New Jersey side of the bridge. We were then led down to the bottom of the NJ tower. Down below, we saw two of the steel cables that are rooted into the ground in order to support the weight of the bridge. Ms. Bocker explained that there are two more cables on the New York side of the bridge, and that each cable is three feet wide and contains over 25,000 wires.
After we visited the underground portion of the trip, we took an old-style elevator up to the top of the New Jersey tower. The view was breathtaking, and it was truly awe-inspiring to imagine how such a tremendous structure could be constructed with only the rudimentary technology available to the engineers of the 1920′s. All of us have crossed the bridge numerous times, but until this tour most of us probably never understood the monumental engineering skill that the GWB is a testament to. Thank you very much to Dr. Berliner for organizing the trip, and to Ms. Bocker for the great tour!