Tim Lamorte

Five Seconds

Tim Lamorte
Five Seconds
The demolition of the east anchor span as seen from the  Castle Hotel & Spa  in Tarrytown.

The demolition of the east anchor span as seen from the Castle Hotel & Spa in Tarrytown.

The east anchor span of the Tappan Zee Bridge was demolished in a dramatic flourish on the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 15. The demolition had been postponed from Jan. 12. 

Explosives were set off on the steel span’s four columns at around 10:50 a.m., sending it plunging into the Hudson River and black smoke billowing into the air. 

Much of that section of the bridge protruded from the river after it was razed. Prior to the demolition, chains were laid on the riverbed to aid with the subsequent removal of the debris.

The spectacle attracted scores of onlookers who lined the shores of Westchester and Rockland counties despite the fact that the air temperature was at the freezing mark. 

While most watched from public property, others attended special brunches hosted by restaurants within sight of the Tappan Zee, which opened in 1955, and its replacement, named after the late Gov. Mario Cuomo. The northern span of the new bridge opened in August 2017, while the southern span opened in September 2018.

The Lyndhurst mansion in Tarrytown charged spectators to park on its property — $10 each for the first 100 cars, $20 each for the next 100. In addition, 10 spots were made available to view the event from the mansion’s tower, at a cost of $100 per person. Free mimosas were served.

New York State Police shut down the Mario Cuomo Bridge after 10 a.m., backing up traffic on both sides. The implosion, which lasted five seconds, was deemed necessary due to the east anchor span’s instability. The remaining west anchor span will be dismantled piece by piece.

Before the end of this year, construction of the new bridge will culminate with the opening of a path for pedestrians and cyclists on the northern span. The path will feature four overlooks. 

Tim Lamorte is an award-winning journalist who has spent more than two decades documenting life along the Hudson River.