Trenton Makes The World Takes Bridge over the Delaware River
The Trenton Morrisville Bridge carried the original Route 1 when it was organized in 1926.Commonly known as the “Free Bridge” in the 1930’s, it received the iconic graphic “Trenton Makes – The World Takes” in 1917.The original 12 foot high wooden letters were illuminated with 2,500 incandescent light bulbs.Roy Heath, a New Jersey State Senator and a founder ofHeath Lumber founder came up with the phrase “The World Takes, Trenton Makes” for a 1910 Trenton Chamber of Commerce promotional contest. For the years before it was reversed and emblazoned on the bridge in capital letters and neon, Heath’s winning slogan was used on C. of C. stationery, buttons, shipping crates and promotional roadway signs.
But the bridge crossing has a much larger history than carrying a slogan.In 1806, the first bridge built there was the first one to cross the Delaware, usurping a ferry service that operated below the falls as early as 1675 when New Jersey was still an English Colony.Then the bridge was purchased by the Camden and Amboy Rail Road to carry railroad traffic, beginning in 1835.It became the first interstate railroad crossing in the nation.By 1920, a new stone arch railroad bridge had been completed across the Delaware and the bridge reverted to vehicular and pedestrian traffic for the new Lincoln Highway, which was moved off of the tolled Calhoun Street Bridge.The current Pennsylvania through-truss version of the Trenton Morrisville Bridge was opened in November, 1928 to carry Route 1 traffic without a toll.
In 1951, Route 1 was moved to a four lane span, the Trenton Morrisville Toll Bridge, operated by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, just downstream of the 1928 bridge to handle increased traffic on Route One.The current auto toll is $1.25 for southbound traffic only.
The current “TRENTON MAKES THE WORLD TAKES” sign is nine feet six inches high and 334 feet long.The lettering was replaced in 1980 and 2005.The last of the unreliable neon was removed when new LED lights were installed in 2017.The LEDs can change color, and follow an annual color scheme scheduleestablished by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.If you have a special lighting request, you can make one online.But be specific!There are 16 million possible color variations!
The new LEDs have also caused people to forget the old signs with neon gremlins that prompted the New York Times to run an article in 1986 entitled ”Mis_ing Lett_rs In N_w Jers_y Sign.” or sarcastic remarks like “Trenton Flickers, The World Snickers”, which must have made folks at the Chamber of Commerce cringe.
Peter Evans PA Morrisville Jun 21, 2022 Bridges Nostalgia Signs
Location: Morrisville, PA
Peter Evans Jun 21, 2022
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