by Robert Kimmel
Rivertown residents who entered this newspaper’s “Name the Bridge Contest” have opinions contrary to those of the New York State legislature when it comes to attaching a label to the new span replacing the old Tappan Zee Bridge.
The State legislature in late June passed a measure naming the new bridge for the well-regarded Governor Mario Cuomo, who spent three terms, from 1983 to 1994, in that post. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature made it official, “The Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.” His father died on January 1, 2015.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino strongly opposed the new name, claiming, “The governor’s sly attempt to put his family’s name on the bridge, which he can’t figure how to pay for, even with his massive toll hikes on the horizon, is simply outrageous. Mario Cuomo has no connection whatsoever to Westchester or Rockland.”
Among the contest entries submitted to The Hudson Independent, fully a third, representing a plurality, called for the new span to preserve the Tappan Zee Bridge label. Only one anticipated retaining the full name, the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge, which is rarely used in everyday conversation. None proposed Governor Mario Cuomo’s name.
The old bridge opened to traffic in December 1955, but Wilson’s name was not added until 1994. A long time New York legislator, and Lt. Governor, Wilson was Governor for one year, in 1974, having taken over for Nelson Rockefeller when he left Albany to serve as Vice President under President Gerald Ford.
Tappan refers to an American Indian tribe that inhabited the area west of the Hudson River and some believe that it is derived from a Lenape Indian word meaning, “cold water.” Zee is “sea” in Dutch.
Folk-singer Pete Seeger’s environmental pursuits to keep the Hudson free of contamination gained him the support of the next highest number of the contest’s entrees. Some attached the word “Clearwater,” the Hudson River sloop and the festival of the same name he founded to bring attention to the river’s environment. “The Peter Seeger Bridge” entrees represented 12 percent of those received.
The New NY Bridge is its temporary label during construction. This newspaper’s contest results had no official standing with Albany legislators, nor the Thruway Authority; however, they reflected local public sentiments.
Among other persons’ names submitted, either together with “Tappan Zee” or offered by themselves, were David Rockefeller, President Barack Obama, Gov. Alfred E. Smith, Eleanor Roosevelt, Henry Hudson, and Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“The Washington Irving Tappan Zee Bridge” was offered by Dean Gallea, of Tarrytown, who explained, “This celebrates one of the Hudson Valley’s most beloved storytellers and retains the name used by the native Americans of the area as well.”
Referring to its location, several readers suggested the name, “The WestRock Bridge,” because it connected Westchester and Rockland counties.
As for entries favoring the old bridge name, many offered somewhat similar reasons. “The name of the New NY Bridge should remain the Tappan Zee Bridge, which honors its location and the Hudson Valley’s Dutch, Indian and more recent history,” wrote Jan Myers of Sleepy Hollow. Another Sleepy Hollow resident, Cindy Offer, noted, “It reflects our Native American and Dutch history and has a great sound.”
An entry from Denise Wheatley called for keeping the Tappan Zee name because “It has history;” but she believed, “…most people don’t recognize Malcolm Wilson as the same bridge, and it gets confusing.”
Another reason for retaining the name came from Tarrytown resident Olympia Quarto as she wrote, “…that is what the United States knows it as, and to change the name the taxpayers would have to pay for the new signs, maps, etc.” Judy Markowitz believed “…most people will continue calling it the Tappan Zee and with existing directions, it could be confusing to someone if it is not kept and they are looking for it.”
In his entry, Fred Crane called for retaining the full name, because “History and legacy mean a lot and the name satisfies both Rockland and Westchester residents.” Tarrytown resident Janet Bylick briefly summed up her sentiment: “Tappan Zee Bridge – Love it.”
The four members of the Atlas family of Sleepy Hollow explained their support for Seeger: “No one has done more for the Hudson River than Pete Seeger and naming the bridge after him would honor his memory and help keep alive an interest in his music and his passion for a clean, environmentally healthy and beautiful Hudson River,” they wrote.
“Clearwater Hudson Bridge,” was recommended by Jordan Becker of Tarrytown, “in honor of Pete Seeger’s Clearwater organization, which has championed cleaning and preserving the Hudson River, since Seeger would have rejected a personal honor.”
“Shortly after plans to build the new TZ bridge were announced, I suggested that the bridge be named in honor and in memory of Pete Seeger –who did more than anyone to clean up the Hudson River,” wrote Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner.
As for the contest, the winner selected through a random drawing, from the plurality of entries for maintaining the Tappan Zee name, was Olympia Quarto, of Tarrytown, quoted earlier, and who will receive a $100 dining certificate.
From the random drawing among all entries, Lilia Tsalalikhin, of Sleepy Hollow, was the winner of the $50 dining certificate. She proposed the name, “West Rock Bridge,” adding that, “It is situated with its one end in Westchester county, and with its other end in Rockland county, connecting these two counties and therefore its name reflects its mission.”
Variety of Names Submitted In Name the Bridge Contest
The familiar, inventive, the scholarly, or the bizarre could be used in describing many of the various names, more than 100, submitted by readers who entered The Hudson Independent’s “Name the Bridge Contest.”
There wasn’t an entry among them, however, that called for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement to be given the name it will apparently have. The contest’s deadline preceded the N.Y. State legislature’s passage late last month of a bill naming the bridge for former Governor Mario Cuomo.
As noted in our July newspaper article about the contest, the entries calling for retention of the Tappan Zee name made up the plurality received. Many recommended retaining the name because of the historic aspect, and for its commemoration of the Indian Tribe, who inhabited the area, (Tappan), and the Dutch, whose word “Zee” means Sea.
Others believed as did Elaine Jeffers, who wrote, “We do not need to add additional costs of making all new signage – people will still call it the Tappan Zee Bridge.”
Among those who wanted that name preserved, were Annette Leyden, David J. Cartenuto, Sunil Samanta, Kristen Lankester, Patricia U. Bonomi, David Lerer, Elena Malunis, Rick Rennert, Krys Mernyk, Linda Steinman ,Renee Sniatkowski, Marge Hone, Ann D. Phillips, William Rush, and Laura Stevens and Joan Kosta. Tim Allport commented, “No political names,” and Jean Chenault added a word; “The New Tappan Zee Bridge.”
Unlike his father whose name was omitted among the entries, Govenor Andrew Cuomo received recognition. Frank A. Benuscak, Jr. called for a lengthy label; “Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Tarrytown & Nyack’s Hudson River Bridge.” Sharon Benuscak suggested, “Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Tarrytown & Nyack’s Union and Trades Bridge.”
“Andrew Cuomo Bridge” got the nod from Rodica Ceslov; “Because Cuomo ensured that the bridge is built at the time when few major infrastructure projects were undertaken anywhere in the nation.”
Indian tribes other than the local Tappan got recognition from several entrants. Anthony White offered “The Weckquaesgeek Bridge,” named after a tribe whose members, “…were the first known inhabitants of the Tarrytown Area, the eastern side of the Hudson,…prior to the 1600’s.”
Peter Hildick-Smith suggested naming the bridge, “The Shatemuc Bridge.” He wrote, “The Lenape, (a major indigenous tribe in the region), called the Hudson River, Shatemuc, meaning ‘the river that flows both ways,’ and that the Shatemuc was an important water route for the Lenape,” “Time to recognize the original heritage,” he noted. Ellen McNamara also entered, “Shatemuc Bridge.”
Harold Tucker chose “Pete Seeger Memorial Bridge,” for his “undying dedication to the Hudson River.” Rochelle Novins agreed, with the “Pete Seeger Bridge,” label as did Lynda Fassa, ” because he is a great American icon who made all of our lives better and returned our river to a habitable place.” “The Clearwater Bridge” was offered by Sherry Alperstein, “In honor of Pete Seeger, a legendary folk singer and activist who created the Clearwater organization in support of clean water.”
Neil Barry Grunstein contemplated two names, but then wrote, “You can combine both suggestions into the Westrock Hudson Seeger Bridge!!
“Westrock Bridge” was also chosen by Allen Reichman , “…derived from a combination of Westchester and Rockland counties, which it obviously connects.” Pamela Markovich, Joey Good, and Haya Adner had the same name idea.
Other contest entrants and the names they proposed, along with some of their comments:
Mark Keefe – “The President Barack Obama Bridge.” – “As the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama embodied hope, possibility, transition, commonality and trust — attributes symbolized by a great, modern bridge spanning a proud river at its broadest point.”
Veronica Cocchiaraley – “Alfred E. Smith Bridge“- “One of only three NYS Governors to be elected to four terms. In 1928 he won the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the U.S.A.”
Steve Wolfert – “Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Bridge” – “As one of the top 10 most admired people of the 20th Century; (Gallup poll), New York’s own Eleanor Roosevelt was an American politician, diplomat, and activist, and the longest-serving First Lady of the United States.”
Johanna McHugh – “The Twin Towers Memorial Bridge” -“In honor of all those who lost their lives on September 11 and since due to various illnesses caused by breathing the contaminated air.”
Pete Sasko, (Vietnam Veteran) – “TarryRock Veterans Passage Bridge” – “It Joins communities, and Honor’s our Veterans.”
Marcia Case – “This new bridge carries ‘the initials’ in its design; the ‘Henry Hudson’ Bridge.’ The existing HH Bridge, doesn’t even cross the Hudson River and it could be renamed the Riverdale Bridge.”
Eva Sandoval – “The WW Bridge” – “By looking at the design of our new bridge it really looks to me like two Ws.”
Tobey Barnett – “The Hudson Hoverer” – “Because it will hover over the Hudson River!”
Gail Schlenger – “The Cross Hudson Bridge“- “Because that’s exactly what the bridge does!”
Anthony Karafantis – “The Greater NY Bridge”
Frank Benuscak III – “Tarrytown & Nyack’s Colossal Bridge”
Dahianna Rodriguez – “The Hudson Bridge.” It connects two lands located within the Hudson Valley, divided by the Hudson River.
Jill Waldman – “Double Dutch Bridge” – “Represents the area’s original Dutch settlers while making a playful reference to the jump rope game using two ropes which are represented in the two new spans across the Hudson.”
Stan Gelber – “Hudson River Bridge of Dreams” – “It conjures up (for me) the locale and afterglow of Rip Van Winkle and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Stephen Marks – “Ichabod’s Bridge”
Daniel McNamara – “The Rochambeau Bridge” – “The Comte de Rochambeau was the French General who aided the US during the Revolutionary War…”.
Samantha Outwater – ” Freedom State Bridge” -…because of what New York State stands for; we are the state of opportunity and freedom.”
E.T. Shapiro – “Unity Bridge” – “A vote for a civil, united America, united internally and with all well-meaning people everywhere.”
Charles Patterson – “The New York Belvedere Bridge” – “Belvedere” means ‘Beautiful View;’ and there will be look-out points along the bridge also known as ‘belvederes’, so naming the bridge ‘Belvedere’ will emphasize the beauty of the bridge and of the surrounding areas of Westchester and Rockland.”
Rita Dimartino – ” Mystic Bridge” – “As I look at the new bridge being built it is absolutely MYSTIC to me.”
Gregory A. Benuscak – “Tarrytown & Nyack’s Mega Bridge”
Maria Schmidt – “The NoNY Bridge” – “It means “north of New York (City)”
LouAnn LoRiggio – “Hudson Valley Bridge” – “It will not only represent the history, the culture, the majestic scenery, the unique attractions and events but most importantly the hardworking, dedicated people that live here and build strong, compassionate communities.”
Aram Fuchs – “The Dads Rock! Bridge” – “Because your contest ends right before Father’s Day and I thought it would be fun!”
The contest winners’ names and other entrants’ bridge names submitted are in the article which appeared in the July issue of The Hudson Independent. (Also on this website.)