Revolutionary Renaming of Kingsbridge

Home Forums The American Revolution Revolutionary Renaming of Kingsbridge

Viewing 3 reply threads
  • Author
    • #2814

      After the Russian Revolution and the death of Lenin, the communists changed the name of St. Petersburg to Leningrad.  That’s what revolutionaries do.  After the American Revolution King’s College became Columbia College.  So why didn’t they change the name of Kingsbridge while they were at it?  Well, they did but it didn’t stick.

      At some point in the fall of 1776, when Kingsbridge was a fortified camp defended by George Washington’s army, revolutionary zeal compelled some to refer to the area as “Congress Bridge.”  For a brief period you can see the new name used in documents.  The diary entry of Chaplain Andrew Hunter for September 30, 1776 says: “After Dinner rode to Congress Bridge with Col. Cortlandt.  The Genl. expects an attack every Day, from the Discoveries that our Spies can make –”

      Here is a requisition document from October 9, 1776 for 100 barrels of pork and flour for the troops at Kings– I mean, “Congress Bridge.”

      Growing up in the 20th century, it is hard to believe there was a time that Congress was ever so popular that they would name something after it.  But they did.  It just didn’t last very long.  Just a couple of weeks later in his diary, Chaplain Andrew Hunter went back to using the old name “Kingsbridge,” as did everyone else.  I have not seen this explained anywhere but perhaps the new name was just too confusing for the soldiers, who were from all over the northeast.  Or maybe the soldiers grew unhappy with the lack of pay and supplies from Congress?

      Or maybe it is just a case of old habits die hard.  I am sure I can’t be the only New Yorker who still can’t help saying “Tappan Zee Bridge” and “Triboro Bridge.”

    • #2815
      Thomas Casey

      This is an interesting find of a previously unknown name change.

      Ps.  I call it the New Tappen Zee Bridge

      • #2817

        Yeah, “Tappan Zee” is pretty great–combining the name of a local Lenape band (the Tappan) and the Dutch word for “sea”–it would be hard to think of a more appropriate homage to the history of the Hudson River Valley and I’ll probably never top saying it.

        But I don’t want to take credit for the “Congress Bridge” discovery.  Peter Ostrander told me about it first.  Here is a link to the only map I have seen that actually labels the bridge as “Kings or Congress Bridge.”

    • #2816

      Thanks for this fun factoid!!


    • #2818

      Thanks for that discovery, Peter and Nick. I wonder if CongressBridge was just too much of a mouthful. Spuytenbridge would have been a little better, but Kingsbridge is a lot easier. And I’m with you on the Triboro and the Tappan Zee!

Viewing 3 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.