WHAT was originally called the Meeker Avenue Bridge when it opened in 1939 was renamed the Tadeusz Kościuszko Bridge for the Polish general who aided George Washington during the American Revolution on 9/22/1940; a large Polish population in Greenpoint and Maspeth, Queens had already been well-established. In 1940, Poland was occupied by Nazi Germany.
Through much of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Penny Bridge was a toll bridge on the Bushwick & Newtown Turnpike (end of Meeker Ave). In the seventeenth century, it was the location of a ferry between Laurel Hill / Maspeth and Greenpoint / Bushwick. The ferry was started by Humphrey Clay, an associate of privateer Captain William Kidd.
The bridge was also the main access to Catholic burials in Calvary Cemetery. The Alsop farm was bought by the church in 1837 when land became scarce for burials in Manhattan. There was a need for the turnpike for the transport of Queens produce to and from Williamsburg ferries as well as the funeral processions to Calvary.
The Penny Bridge that crossed the creek prior to the construction of the great Kosciuszko Bridge was a modest truss bridge that could be moved to allow shipping to pass. It connected the end of Meeker Avenue in Greenpoint with Laurel Hill Boulevard at the south gate of Holy Calvary in Hunters Point. Foot traffic as well as auto traffic was accommodated. In 1939, the immense Kosciuzko replaced it.
In this photo, the brick road in the foreground is Meeker Avenue, with the last Penny Bridge on the left, and its replacement, the first Kosciuszko Bridge, behind it. I regret that Meeker Avenue has not been directly connected to Laurel Hill Boulevard for decades, but the era of small bridges crossing the Newtown were over as shipping became larger and taller and clearances became necessary. In time, this Kosciuszko would be connected to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, as is its replacement.
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