The Triborough Bridge, which connects, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx, was officially renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge Wednesday.
A ceremony was held in Queens's Astoria Park, a day before what would have been the assassinated New York senator's 83rd birthday.
This is the first major public works in New York State being named for Bobby Kennedy, who was New York's junior senator when he was assassinated in California in 1968 while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Former President Bill Clinton, Governor David Paterson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and members of the Kennedy family attended the ceremony.
“In his book, ‘The Power Broker,’ Robert Caro noted that the Triboro is not really a bridge at all but four bridges, which link together three boroughs and two islands,” said Bloomberg. “And building it, Caro said, was a feat equal to tying together two or three cities. So I think it’s only fitting that the name on such an incredible bridge reflect both the grandeur of its scale and the significance of its purpose.”
Kennedy's daughter Kerry associated more personal memories with the bridge.
“I love that this bridge is named for my father in particular because I remember as a kid going over this bridge with daddy,” said Kerry Kennedy. “And I'm sure my other brothers and sisters will remember as well - whenever we drove over the Triborough he would point to the railroad bridge on the other side and say, ‘Look at the upside-down bridge,’ and we got a great kick out of that.”
Earl Graves, founder of Black Enterprise Magazine and a former aide to Bobby Kennedy, also attended and said the renaming is happening at an appropriate time in history, when the late senator's vision is coming true.
"I would go with him around the city or around the state and he was always reaching out to young people and he was reaching out for new ideas," said Graves. "He was reaching out for those who were less fortunate to see how he could make things better for them."
"I think if he had lived, he would have been president," continued Graves. "I think we were well on the way to that happening. He would think it's very appropriate because he said 40 years ago that he did see an African-American one day would be president. And today that has come to fruition."
After the ceremony, dignitaries toured the bridge span in vintage cars.
"The bridge was very significant in terms of linking New York City to Long Island and it led to the growth of the suburbs, and so it's very fitting that it's being name after someone credited with building bridges among communities," said Joyce Mulvaney of MTA Bridges and Tunnels.
The bridge was officially opened in 1936, and 10-year-old
Anthony Dominick Benedetto, who later became singer Tony Bennett, sang at the dedication.