Queensboro Bridge 100th bash a joyous celebration, apparently

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The Queensboro Bridge marked its 100th birthday with the Manhattan and Queens borough presidents leading parades that met mid−span on the bridge Sunday morning, or that’s how the story was told.

A Queens photographer and reporter were turned away from the Queens side of the bridge by an overzealous police officer who demanded that they could only cover the event by entering on the Manhattan side of the bridge. This was supposed to be a separate but equal celebration.

Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said she joined Francesca Lindenthal Gebhardt, daughter of the bridge’s engineer, Gustav Lindenthal, and her grandson, Allen Renz, in leading a mini−parade to the center of the iconic bridge, where the group met Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The event was held in commemoration of the day the 7,449−foot−long Queensboro Bridge was completed on June 12, 1909.

“This bridge not only helped to transform our agrarian economy into a modern metropolis,” Marshall said in a statement prior to the event, “but also has aged well and looks as good today as it did a century ago — and it continues to make people feel ‘groovy.’”

Reports in two daily newspapers, published on the Manhattan side of the span, each indicated that both Marshall and Bloomberg made references to the Simon and Garfunkel tune “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)” during the course of the ceremony, which was scheduled to take place at 9 a.m.

But a spokesman for Bloomberg could not immediately confirm whether the mayor told attendees at the event he was “feeling groovy.”

Queens appeared to have had the edge on the song front Sunday since both Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel came from Forest Hills and Simon attended Queens College.

Two TimesLedger Newspapers staffers and a daily newspaper photographer wearing press credentials arrived at a media access point to the event shortly after 8 a.m. at the corner of Thompson and Skillman avenues in Long Island City, but were told by a member of the NYPD the ceremony could only be reached from Manhattan. Sounds of a Queens marching band, which Marshall had led onto the bridge from her borough, could be heard tantalizingly in the distance.

Another police officer had pointed the TimesLedger staffers to the bridge access point just minutes earlier before they were halted by his colleague, who may have been a closet Manhattanite. The two photographers eventually were given access to the bridge from the intersection but only after most of the event had taken place. The press had been invited to take a bus to the bridge from City Hall, presumably to the Manhattan side.

That night the celebration continued with a fireworks show which lit up the bridge and was visible in both Queens and Manhattan in the true spirit of the event a century ago that joined the two boroughs.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at sstirling@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

Updated 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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