How the Crescent City got connected
Once upon a time, Algiers was a small, suburban neighborhood. Then, the Greater New Orleans Bridge opened to traffic in 1958, spanning the Mississippi River and connecting downtown New Orleans to the West Bank. In 1981, construction began on a second span, turning one of the longest cantilever bridges in the world into a pair. It wasn’t ready for the 1984 World’s Fair, as originally promised, but after seven years of construction, the Greater New Orleans Bridge No. 2 finally opened in September 1988. In 1989, the tollbooths opened, and this twin span became what we know it as today: the Crescent City Connection.
Commuters on both sides of the Mississippi today enjoy a toll-free crossing. With the closure of the tollbooths in 2013 and their removal in 2016, the bridge remains one of the most traveled bridges across the Mississippi. More than 63 million vehicles cross the bridge each year, making it an invaluable link between the city and the surrounding area — and helping to shape the communities of the West Bank into sprawling suburbs.
- A contest was held to name the bridges upon the opening of the second span. A fourth-grade class at St. Clement of Rome School in Metairie submitted the winning name: “The Crescent City Connection.”
- The original Greater New Orleans Bridge opened in 1958 as four-lane cantilever bridge. At the time, it was among the longest in the world. Today, the Crescent City Connection is the 5
-longest cantilever bridge in the world, at 1,575 feet long.
- The Crescent City Connection is the furthest downstream bridge to cross the Mississippi.
The construction cost of the original bridge was $65 million in 1958; the second span cost $550 million in 1988.
- In the late 1980s, the Young Leadership Council raised money to install decorative lights on the bridges, making them a dazzling part of New Orleans’ nighttime skyline. In 2014, it was estimated the cost of electricity and maintenance of the lights was about $60,000 annually.
- Anyone can watch traffic on the bridge at any time, thanks to NOLA.com’s
Crescent City Connection Bridge Cam
- In recent years, races such as the Crescent Connection Bridge Run and the Bridgeman Duathlon have been routed over the bridge, giving athletes a unique view of New Orleans.
- In 2015, the Humane Society of Louisiana rescued a kitten from rush hour traffic on the eastbound side of the bridge. They found the kitten on a guardrail. She was reported to be healthy despite a few scratches on her face.
Some may still refer to the Crescent City Connection as the GNO Bridge, but whatever you call it, the New Orleans skyline would be incomplete without the twin spans of the bridge emerging from the CBD. The bridge itself might be steel and cement, but it represents expansion and connection in the Greater New Orleans area.