The Hell Gate Bridge’s centennial is coming up, and one community leader is asking for the public’s input on how to celebrate the iconic bridge.
Antonio Meloni, director of New York Anti-Crime Agency and president of the Astoria Civic Association, will host a planning meeting on April 26 to gather ideas from Astoria residents on how to best pay homage to the structure.
“Astoria is lucky to have one of the most iconic bridges in the world,” Meloni said. “[Astoria Park] itself is defined by the Hell Gate and the Triborough. When someone asks, ‘Where do you want to meet?’ you say, ‘Between the bridges.'”
Meloni said he is already in talks with the Greater Astoria Historical Society to give an educational walking tour to attendees about the bridge’s history, its uses and any recent updates. The bridge, which will officially turn 100 on Sept. 30, was designed by Gustav Lindenthal and Henry Hornbostel and was the inspiration behind the Sydney Harbor Bridge in Australia.
Meloni said the date of the celebration will also be up for discussion at the meeting. Attendees will decide whether to celebrate closer to the date the bridge was actually built, when construction started or when it was actually in use.
His organization, the New York Anti-Crime Agency, works with students to paint murals around the bridge and conduct cleanups. The organization has painted 18 murals in the last 13 years and partners with well-known artists like Lady Pink and Roger Smith. Meloni said the group may suggest a day of service to beautify the area surrounding the bridge.
Other suggestions include a Hell Gate photo contest “because everyone loves to photograph that particular area” or a fireworks show. Meloni said he would like to involve community agencies, elected officials, media, Amtrak and historical societies.
People interested in providing ideas can attend the meeting, which will take place before the 114th Precinct Community Council, at Riccardo’s by the Bridge at 6:30 p.m. at 21-01 24th Ave. in Astoria.
Each attendee will have about two minutes to pitch their idea and provide logistics as to how it would be accomplished.
“I don’t know where this leads because, no pun intended, it’s not written in stone,” Meloni said. “There’s a lot we can do there.”
For those who cannot attend the meeting, suggestions can be made to Meloni at Meloni25@iasny.org.