Named for former Bronx Borough President and Congressman Henry Bruckner (1871-1942), this roadway links the Triborough Bridge to the New England Expressway.
Henry Bruckner was born in the Bronx on June 17, 1871. After attending New York public schools, at age 19 he took a job designing silver for the Gorham Manufacturing Company in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1892 Bruckner helped developed Bruckner Beverages, located at 410 East 161st Street, which would soon be the city’s largest soda water bottler.
Bruckner began his political career as a state legislator in 1900. The following year he was appointed commissioner of Public Works, a position he held until his election to the United States Congress in 1912. Bruckner also served on the Committee of Public Buildings and the Merchant Marine, an organization of privately owned and operated commercial vessels registered with the federal government that sought to expand the nation’s wealth through trade and the transport of provisions abroad in wartime. A staunch Bronx Democrat, Bruckner became Bronx Borough President in 1918, and maintained a close affiliation with the Boss-style Tammany Hall political machine, which enabled him to remain in office until 1933.
In 1932 the state legislature released results of an investigation into allegedly illicit activities conducted by Tammany Hall. Following the resignation of Mayor Jimmy Walker (1881-1946), Judge Samuel Seabury (1873-1958) ordered the removal of Henry Bruckner from his position as Bronx Borough President. Bruckner refused to resign, but his 33-year political career ended the following year when Bronx Democratic leader Edward J. Flynn (1891-1953) refused to support Bruckner’s re-election bid. Bruckner died of chronic nephritis (deterioration of the kidneys) on April 14, 1942 in his Bronx home at 858 Grant Avenue.
In the late 1940s, Eastern Boulevard, once a major thoroughfare that provided access to the Triborough Bridge, was widened and renamed Bruckner Boulevard in memory of the New York politician. In 1951, Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Chairman Robert Moses (1888-1891) proposed plans to transform the boulevard into an expressway that would run from the Triborough Bridge to Pelham Bay Park, connecting with other major north-south routes along the way. Residents in the area objected, recognizing the economic and commercial consequences of an elevated highway in their neighborhood. Bronx Borough President James Lyons (1890-1966) attempted to negotiate with Moses, who denied the neighborhood transportation funding unless they would consent to his exact demands.
Construction began in 1957 and the expressway was opened to the public in parcels throughout the following decade. In 1972, the completed $149 million Bruckner Interchange replaced the antiquated Bruckner Traffic Circle at the intersection of the Hutchinson River Parkway, Cross Bronx Expressway, and Bruckner Expressway. The Interchange, which lies approximately five hundred feet west of this site, provides important access to the Throgs Neck and Bronx-Whitestone Bridges from all three routes, uniting the Sheridan Expressway and Throgs Neck Parkway.
The Bruckner Expressway remains well traveled, handling 115,000 vehicles per day on the I-278 section and 155,000 each day on its I-195 section. The City has ambitious plans for its future including a $28 million project designed for roadway resurfacing. The addition of new lighting and signage is slated for completion by the end of 2001. The reconstruction of the Bronx Interchange is scheduled for 2002, and the City is slated to spend $155 million on bridge rehabilitation and ramp improvements.
Wednesday, Aug 08, 2001