1964: The Debut of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge in the Washington Metropolitan Area

June 23, 1964

The Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, which spans the Potomac River and serves as a highway link between Washington, D.C., and Virginia, was officially dedicated. Plans for a new bridge across this section of the Potomac River first took significant shape during the early 1950s. Finally, in 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law a measure authorizing the construction of a bridge that would cross over Theodore Roosevelt Island. (That 88.5-acre [35.8-hectare] island in the Potomac River had been purchased by the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Association in 1931 as a national memorial to the 26h president; the association gave the island to the federal government the following year.) 

The 1958 measure signed by Eisenhower marked the first time that the proposed bridge over the island was officially designated “Theodore Roosevelt Bridge.” Construction on the bridge started in 1960. As part of the dedication festivities for the completed bridge in 1964, a car carrying members of Theodore Roosevelt’s family led a motorcade of antique automobiles over the newest structure connecting the nation’s capital with Virginia.

The Roosevelt family members attending the dedication included the iconoclastic Alice Roosevelt Longworth, the late president’s oldest daughter; and two of his grandsons, Cornelius Van S. Roosevelt and Kermit Roosevelt. “Theodore Roosevelt Descendants Help Dedicate Bridge,” announced a headline in the next day’s edition of the Washington Post.   

Approximately 300 people were on hand for the inauguration of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, with U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia serving as keynote speaker for the event. District Engineer Commissioner Charles M. Duke was the master of ceremonies, and he and several other local public officials were among those who jointly cut a red and white ribbon to formally open the bridge to general traffic. At the time, the only approaches that could be used for accessing the bridge were the Constitution Avenue ramps on the Washington side and the George Washington Memorial Parkway ramps on the Virginia side. The Theodore Roosevelt Bridge’s other approaches would be opened later.  

Photo Credit: Farragutful (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)

For more information on the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, please check out https://structurae.net/en/structures/theodore-roosevelt-bridge and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt_Bridge

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