Beautifully engraved certificate from the Delaware Port Authority
in 1974. This historic document was printed by the American Banknote Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of the Ben Franklin Bridge. This item has the printed signatures of the Authorized Officer and is
over 27 years old.
The Delaware River Port Authority of Pennsylvania and New Jersey is a regional transportation and economic development agency serving the people of Southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. DRPA owns and operates the Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Commodore Barry and Betsy Ross bridges.
Delaware River Port Authority -- 80 Years of Progress
1818 -- Residents of the Delaware Valley first began discussing the idea of building a bridge across the Delaware River. Conjuring up the best resources of 19th Century engineering, they envisioned a low structure with a complex array of openings to accommodate both the sailing ships and the horse-drawn vehicles of the day.
1913 -- With the dawn of the motorized era, Philadelphia forms the Penn Memorial Bridge Committee to study the bridge issue.
1916 -- New Jersey Governor James F. Fielder appoints the Delaware River and Tunnel Commission. Philadelphia agrees to jointly fund a bridge feasibility study.
1919 -- Both state legislatures approve creation of the Delaware River Bridge Joint Commission.
December 12, 1919 -- The first meeting of the Delaware River Bridge Joint Commission is called to order by its chairman, Pennsylvania Governor William C. Sproul. Among those serving as Pennsylvania commissioners are the commonwealth's auditor general and treasurer and Philadelphia Mayor Thomas B. Smith. The commission's vice chairman is Richard T. Collings, the former mayor of Collingswood, N.J. Collings became known as the "Father of the Delaware River Bridge." The other New Jersey commissioners are members of the state's Interstate Bridge and Tunnel Commission.
1920 -- In one of its first official acts, the commission names Ralph Modjeski as bridge engineer and Leon S. Moisseiff as design engineer. Together they face the task of designing and building the longest suspension bridge in the world at that time. Modjeski proves to be a hands-on, energetic manager who regularly climbs around the construction site despite his advancing years. To the bridge building fraternity, this becomes "Ralph Modjeski's Bridge."
1921 -- President Warren G. Harding signs legislation authorizing construction of the bridge. January 6, 1922 -- Bridge construction begins. Presiding over the ceremony are Pennsylvania Governor William Sproul and New Jersey Governor Edward I. Edwards.
1923 -- The Joint Commission rejects the name "Franklin Bridge" and official designates the
structure as the "Delaware River Bridge."
July 1, 1926 -- More than 25,000 people attend the official opening ceremony of the Delaware River Bridge. Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot and New Jersey Governor A. Harry Moore preside. After the ceremony an estimated 100,000 people (including an 87-year-old Civil War veteran in full uniform) walk across the bridge before it opens to vehicular traffic. The following day, President Calvin Coolidge arrives to dedicate the bridge.
1948 -- A study by the Delaware River Joint Bridge Commission recommends the creation of a regional port authority. The goal, according to the study, is to centralized port responsibilities and enhanced port facilities. The study also recommends the construction of a second bridge and a high speed commuter rail line.
July 17, 1951 -- Following agreement by Pennsylvania and New Jersey, President Harry S. Truman signs the bill creating the Delaware River Port Authority as the successor agency to the Delaware River Joint Bridge Commission. The legislation gives the new agency the responsibility to "promote" international trade for Delaware River ports. President Truman also signs a companion bill that permits construction of a second Delaware River crossing.
1953 -- Construction begins on the second suspension bridge, this one between South Philadelphia and Gloucester City, N.J.
1955 -- The Delaware River Port Authority designates a special committee to consider names for the two bridges. The committee recommends renaming the "Delaware River Bridge" as the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Also, in recognition of the many years the "Good Gray Poet's" lived in Camden, it recommends naming the second crossing the "Walt Whitman Bridge." That becomes the first major U.S. bridge named for a poet.
May 15, 1957 -- New Jersey Governor Robert B. Meyner and Pennsylvania Auditor General Charles C. Smith dedicate and open the Walt Whitman Bridge. Within two decades the bridge will have a major impact on the Delaware Valley, leading to the development of the Philadelphia Food Distribution Center, Veterans Stadium, the Spectrum, the Atlantic City Expressway and New Jersey's Black Horse Pike communities.
1960 -- Planning begins for a high speed rail line between New Jersey and Philadelphia.
1961 -- Planning begins for additional river crossings. The Delaware River Port Authority and other port interests conduct their first overseas trade mission.
June 11, 1964 -- Construction begins on the PATCO High-Speed Line that will link Center City Philadelphia with Lindenwold, N.J.
June 13, 1964 -- President Lyndon B. Johnson signs legislation extending DRPA jurisdiction into Delaware County, Pa., to permit construction of the Commodore Barry Bridge.
1965 -- New Jersey and Pennsylvania approve plans for construction of the Betsy Ross Bridge.
1966 -- New Jersey and Pennsylvania approve plans for construction of the Commodore Barry Bridge.
September 7, 1967 -- The Delaware River Port Authority establishes a subsidiary unit, the Port Authority Transit Corporation, to operate the PATCO High-Speed Line.
January 4, 1969 -- The first PATCO High-Speed Line trains runs between Lindenwold and Camden. PATCO represents a new generation in urban transit systems. It is highly automated, using only one operator per train and ticket vending machines in all stations. Nevertheless, PATCO quickly earns the reputation as a customer-friendly system and begins to be called the most efficient and dependable public transit system in the United States.
February 15, 1969 -- PATCO service begins to Philadelphia.
June 26, 1969 -- Construction begins on the Commodore Barry Bridge linking Chester, Pa., and Bridgeport, N.J. The bridge is named after the American Revolutionary War hero and father of the American Navy. An Irish immigrant, Barry lived in Philadelphia.
July 31, 1969 -- Construction begins on the Betsy Ross Bridge linking Northeast Philadelphia with Pennsauken, N.J. Again the Delaware River Port Authority makes history -- the Betsy Ross becomes the first U.S. bridge named after a woman.
February 1, 1974 -- The Commodore Barry Bridge opens and the Chester-Bridgeport Ferry runs for the last time.
April 30, 1976 -- The Betsy Ross Bridge opens.
January 20, 1978 -- The Benjamin Franklin Bridge carries its one billionth vehicle
November 1, 1988 -- Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey and New Jersey Governor Thomas H. Kean meet at St. Joseph's University. The governors agree on a three-step program. First, the states will work to amend the Delaware River Port Authority's bi-state charter to enable it to engage in port unification and regional economic development. Second, the Delaware River Port Authority will build an intermodal rail facility in Philadelphia. Third, the agency will help revitalize Camden's business district by constructing a new headquarters building along the Delaware River.
July 3, 1990 -- The Walt Whitman Bridge carries its one billionth vehicle.
July 3, 1991 -- At a "Golden Spike" ceremony the Delaware River Port Authority takes the first step in fulfilling the mandate by the two governors. The ceremony marks the start of construction for "AmeriPort," a regional intermodal transfer facility that will improve the flow of containerized cargo through the port.
October 1, 1992 -- One-Way Tolls take effect on all four Delaware River Port Authority bridges as well as the Delaware Memorial Bridge, Tacony-Palmyra Bridge and Burlington-Bristol Bridge. The move to westbound-only toll collection is immediately popular with commuters and reduces traffic congestion on the bridges and the approach roadways.
1992 -- New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Congress approve a new Delaware River Port Authority compact that broadens the agency's mandate in the fields of port enhancement and economic development.
October 27, 1992 -- President George Bush signs the bill that amends the bi-state compact. The new compact broadens the responsibilities of the Delaware River Port Authority and expands its area of responsibility to include the Pennsylvania counties of Bucks, Chester and Montgomery.
December 11, 1992 -- A severe winter storm threatens to topple the steeple of St. Augustine's Church onto the deck of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. For safety reasons, the bridge is closed for part of three days while workers struggle through high winds to remove the steeple.
February 1993 -- Containers unloaded from an Australian ship move to the newly completed AmeriPort facility where they are loaded onto railroad cars for transport to Canada. Soon rail cars from CP Rail, CSX and Conrail are moving in and out of AmeriPort, making it the Northeast's only three-railroad intermodal facility. In response to increasing cargo demands, the Delaware River Port Authority develops plans to expand AmeriPort.
1993 -- Using its new economic development mandate, the Delaware River Port Authority begins investing in public improvements and private-sector initiatives. The program adds public attractions at Penns Landing and the Camden aquarium while low-interest loans help the expansion of Philadelphia's American Street Enterprise Zone and other project.
May 12, 1994 -- Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey and New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman formally approve the unification of the Delaware River ports. Called "The Port of Philadelphia and Camden," the new agency functions as a Delaware River Port Authority subsidiary with its own bi-state board of directors. James Weinstein is elected the first chairman.
June 21, 1994 -- The Delaware River Port Authority becomes a major investor in FastShip Atlantic, a private firm that looks to revolutionize trans-Atlantic shipping. The Port of Philadelphia and Camden receives a long-term contract to handle all of FastShip's North Atlantic service.
November 16, 1994 -- Construction begins on One Port Center, the new Delaware River Port Authority headquarters building on the Camden waterfront. With the building's 1996 opening, the agency will complete all three missions outlined by the governors in 1988.
December 21, 1994 -- The Delaware River Port Authority commemorates 75 years of service to the Delaware Valley. It awaits further challenges.
1995 -- Toll collectors begin a formal "Thank You" program. A comprehensive customer-service initiative follows.
March 1996 -- One Port Center opens. It is soon fully occupied, including a ground-floor restaurant serving the Camden Waterfront.
1996 -- AmeriPort begins loading "double-stack" containers, an improvement that helps make the Port of Philadelphia and Camden more competitive.
October 22, 1997 -- Joining a federal-state-city effort, DRPA helps forge an agreement to convert the former Philadelphia Navy Yard to a civilian shipbuilding center.
1998 -- DRPA completes a four-year cycle of budget and staffing reductions. At a time when its responsibilities greatly increased, DRPA produces
spending reductions unmatched in the country.