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Bayside group honors Throgs Neck Br.’s 50th

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The Clearview Expressway and the Throgs Neck Bridge brought big changes to Queens when they opened 50 years ago — including the removal of hundreds of area homes for the expressway’s construction — and the Bayside Historical Society is looking to tell residents’ stories about the structures as part of its upcoming exhibit.

The BHS this spring will open the exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversaries of the Clearview and Throgs Neck, and a society spokeswoman said it wants to interview residents about their memories of the construction and openings.

“This community was greatly impacted, particularly with regard to the Clearview,” said Alison McKay, an archivist at the Bayside Historical Society at 208 Totten Ave. “In fact, there were some 400 homes that had to be moved or razed to make way for it. However, this is not to say all were negatively affected. In one case, for example, the project enabled Bayside High School to secure land for what is today the Bayside athletic field.”

Scheduled to open May 1, the exhibit will chronicle the history of the bridge and expressway and examine their impact on the Bayside community. The BHS will preserve residents’ stories in a documentary that will be shown as part of the exhibit, and members are working with students from Holy Cross High School in Flushing to create the documentary.

“We are really hoping there will be people out there who will remember the construction and who can share their stories,” said Jennifer Dullahan, a BHS spokeswoman. “It’s important to document these things.”

The exhibit will include a number of other items, including architectural drawings and photos, Dullahan said.

Both the Throgs Neck and the Clearview Expressway opened in 1961.

Original plans for the Clearview included displacing about double the number of homes in the Bayside area than actually happened. Officials changed their plans after a massive outcry from the community against the plans, and about 421 homes ultimately were moved or razed.

City officials marked the official anniversary of the Throgs Neck Jan. 11.

“We’re proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Throgs Neck, which plays an integral role daily in keeping traffic moving through this vital transportation corridor linking New York City with Long Island and New York’s northern counties” MTA Bridges and Tunnels President Jim Ferrara said.

The Throgs Neck, which connects the Bronx to Queens and Long Island, was the first major bridge of the post-World War II era, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Past city officials, including Robert Moses, chairman of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority; Mayor Robert Wagner; and Borough President John Clancy celebrated the bridge’s opening Jan. 11, 1961 — and then proceeded to race over the bridge for the dedication ceremony held 20 minutes later at the first World’s Fair structure at Flushing Meadow Corona Park.

Those interested in participating in the Bayside Historical Society exhibit should call 718-352-1548.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 10:48 am, October 12, 2011
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