Trenton Makes The World Takes: The Lower Trenton Toll-Supported Bridge

When driving on United States Highway 1 on the toll bridge over the Delaware River between New Jersey and Pennsylvania, one cannot help but see the old green metal bridge just to the north, proudly proclaiming the words Trenton Makes The World Takes on its side.

Trenton Makes The World Takes: The Lower Trenton Toll-Supported Bridge

Having driven past this bridge numerous times, I decided to stop on this particularly chilly and gloomy day and actually cross it — both by car and on foot.

Lower Trenton Toll-Supported Bridge

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

I parked the car near the corner of Central Avenue and East Bridge Street in Morrisville on the Pennsylvania side of the bridge.

Lower Trenton Toll-Supported Bridge

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

This location is one of many examples I have found where a small sign welcomes visitors to a state instead of those larger ones seen along Interstate highways.

Lower Trenton Toll-Supported Bridge

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The only explanations with which I can come up regarding the photograph shown above is that some idiot who wanted to block the intersection must have been texting while driving and knocked down the sign — or perhaps a herd of elephants suddenly stampeded through Morrisville.

Anyway, the place on the street where I parked the car was not a far walk at all to the western end of the bridge…

Lower Trenton Toll-Supported Bridge

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

…and East Bridge Street — as well as the bridge itself — is part of Lincoln Highway, which is known as the first road across America and was one of the earliest transcontinental highways for automobiles across the United States, as indicated by the tiny signs attached on each side of the bridge…

…but that is an article for another day.

Lower Trenton Toll-Supported Bridge

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

While I was crossing the north side of the bridge, I noticed the capital building — which is also known as the New Jersey State House — appearing to be inundated by hundreds of birds and seemingly mimicking some of the scenes shown in the 1963 movie The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock.

Lower Trenton Toll-Supported Bridge

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The birds were actually doing…

Lower Trenton Toll-Supported Bridge birds

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

…well — whatever they were actually doing in the Delaware River near the mouth of Assunpink Creek.

Lower Trenton Toll-Supported Bridge

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The span is only one lane in each direction — separated by a center truss — which is restricted to a maximum speed limit of 25 miles per hour, with a metal grating as its roadway. The maximum weight limit on the bridge is five tons; the maximum vertical clearance is ten feet; and the length of the bridge is 1,022 feet.

Lower Trenton Toll-Supported Bridge

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

“The substructure — originally built in 1804, widened and raised in 1874 — consists of stone masonry”, according to this information from the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, which is the authority that is responsible for the operation, maintenance and upkeep of the bridge. “The down-river truss displays the ‘Trenton Makes The World Takes’ sign, which is mounted to the truss members; hence, the bridge’s nickname. The original sign was erected in 1935 and most recently replaced in 2005.”

Lower Trenton Toll-Supported Bridge

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The slogan of “The World Takes, Trenton Makes” for Trenton was originated by S. Roy Heath — who was a local lumberyard owner who went on to become a state senator — through a contest in 1910 by the Trenton Chamber of Commerce to represent the leading position of the city in the manufacturing of steel, rubber, wire rope, linoleum and ceramics — amongst other goods.

The first sign — whose letters were comprised of wood and adorned with sequins — was hung in 1911 by R.C. Maxwell Sign Company. A mayoral committee raised money for the sign company in August of 1917 to replace the letters with lighted ones — as well as change the slogan to “Trenton Makes The World Takes” with an arrow pointing towards Trenton.

In celebration of 100 years of the current slogan, the letters — which are almost ten feet i height — underwent a makeover earlier this year with new lights which can change colors to commemorate special events, causes or holidays.

Lower Trenton Toll-Supported Bridge

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

As shown in the above photograph, the current bridge is a Warren Truss — which was built in 1928 — and consists of five spans.

The original Lower Trenton Bridge — which was constructed completely of wood and was covered by a roof of red cedar shingles — was the first bridge to span the Delaware River and opened to traffic on Thursday, January 30, 1806. The present bridge is located on the same site as the original bridge and uses the original stone masonry pilings.

“Prior to the opening of the bridge, river crossings were made by ferry, a means of travel made uncertain by floods and ice stages in the river with travel frequently delayed for weeks at a time”, according to the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission. “Both the New Jersey and Pennsylvania ends of the bridge featured high and elaborate fronts, with great arched doorways over the carriage ways and foot-walks. The piers and abutments were constructed of stone masonry designed to be elevated enough to clear the highest flood. As a result of floods reaching a level higher than expected during the construction period, the masonry was raised to a new high-water level. Because of this precaution, the bridge was not swept away during the 1841 flood that destroyed five other bridges over the Delaware north of Trenton. Several years later, the bridge was remodeled to permit passage of locomotives and became the first bridge in the United States to be used for interstate railroad traffic.”

Summary

Trenton is not known today as a city which manufactures goods; so a puzzled and perplexed look on the face of a visitor who reads the slogan on the bridge could be understood and forgiven — but products such as life preservers, mustards, rubber cement, dressings, life rafts, frames, parachutes, jellies, and even emergency flotation devices which are demonstrated aboard airplanes by members of flight crews are still made today by companies located in Trenton…

…so even though the scale of production of goods may be smaller, Trenton still makes — and the world still takes — to some extent.

All photographs ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

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