I was reading this fascinating history of Theodore Roosevelt Island, trying to find out what the original plan was for the downstream pedestrian path - the one that ends on the Virginia side in the middle of nowhere. Did they have a plan to connect that to something at some point in time but just didn't follow through or did they just figure that someone would eventually connect something to it? (if so construction began in 1960, so they misjudged). Anyway, I couldn't find any of the designs as presented to the CFA, or anyone else, at the time, so I don't know, but I did learn a lot of other interesting facts. The CFA approved a steel bridge design in 1955, but I'm not sure if that's even the design that was built, since permission to build it wouldn't come for another year.
- There's been talk recently of building a bicycle and pedestrian bridge between Roosevelt Island and the Georgetown Waterfront, but that wouldn't be the first time such a bridge existed. For a few months at the end of the Civil War a pontoon bridge was built to facilitate the return of captured Confederate troops. (see image at bottom)
- The Columbia Athletic Club leased the island, then known as Masons Island, from 1889-1892 and built several athletic facilities there, including a "quarter-mile bicycle and running track". Theodore Roosevelt was a member of the club. In 1890 "the Columbia Athletic Club hosted the annual meet of the American Athletic Union, drawing competitors from around the country. A new world record in the 100-yard dash was set that day at a mark of nine and four-fifths seconds. The crouching start to races is also said to have been first used on the island."
- The Theodore Roosevelt Association (TRA) didn't want the bridge going across the island, as they planned to put a boathouse, ferry landing and outlook terrace there, but after many years they relented.
- In 1956, when the decision was made to run the bridge over the southern end of the Island, the TRA (which had control over the island) demanded, among other things, that "it include direct pedestrian and automobile access to the island." This had been included as a requirement in a 1954 Federal law authorizing the bridge. In 1957, it was still part of the plan. Yet, the bridge provides neither, and its unclear what happened to that demand and why. I've often though it was a shame that the pedestrian path on the upstream side doesn't provide direct access to the park.
In addition to these bike relevant pieces of information, I found this interesting as well
- In the 1920's there was talk of building a stadium on the island to honor TR. "The Washington Board of Trade led an effort to build a 100,000-seat, $5 million stadium or athletic coliseum capable of hosting major national sporting events and the Olympic Games on the island"
- There was an alternate proposal, that wasn't seriously considered, to raise the island on the south side and then tunnel the bridge through it. An NPS official supported the idea enough to do a formal comparative analysis of the bridge and tunnel plans in February 1957. NCPC supported the tunnel.
- Before being called the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge it was the E Street Bridge.
- There were several ferries that connected the island to VA or DC and also several causeways between the island and VA. But from 1948 up until the current pedestrian bridge was built in 1979, the only way to get there was via ferry. The frequency and price changed many times over the years.
- In 1958, the 4th of July fireworks were launched from the island to celebrate TR's 100th birthday.