On George Washington Bridge the World’s Largest Free-Flying US Flag was Displayed for Flag.
The people crossing the Hudson River on George Washington Bridge in New York last Thursday, Flag Day, were the audience of a unique national treasure. The world’s largest free-flying US flag was suspended from the upper reaches of the bridges New Jersey tower. Port Authority workers unfurled the 60-by-90 foot and 450-pound nylon American flag before 7 a.m. Setting up Old Glory was no easy task for the bridge employees. “To hang that flag takes hours but it reflects the pride of the people who work on the bridge. On Flag Day, on July 4, people are going to put flags out in their front yards. The Port Authority is going to do the same in our front yard, on the bridge that is most identified with New York and New Jersey,” said Bill Baroni, deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. The tradition of hanging up the flag over the George Washington Bridge dates back 65 years.
Stats and facts about the world’s largest free flying American flag:
— The Port Authority cycles through flags once every few years, replacing damaged banners as needed. The current model is about 6 years old, purchased to mark the 5th anniversary of 9/11.
— All of the flags have been the same height and width, just the right dimensions to ensure the tower can support the weight of the tapestry.
— It takes about 30 minutes for Port Authority workers to remove the behemoth from its container inside the tower. “Picture a towel folded in half lengthwise and kind of twisted,” says Bob Durando, the bridge’s general manager. “That’s pretty much what the flag looks like, with winches and cabling attached to it. There’s a process that these winches lower down, the boom opens up and the flag unfurls.”
— Two weeks after 9/11, a group of Port Authority employees retrieved and repaired a retired GWB flag that had been in storage. The team trucked Old Glory from New Jersey to Lower Manhattan, where it flew near Ground Zero.
— Technically, the Fort Lee flag is not the world’s largest national banner. A record-setting super flag was unveiled in Israel three years ago. The blue, white and gold colossus weighs more than 11,000 pounds and measures 2,165-by-330 feet. Other countries with notably enormous flags include Mexico and Morocco.
— Although Betsy Ross is commonly depicted sewing the original stars and stripes, an eccentric 18th century New Jersey politician/poet/harpsichordist named Francis Hopkinson is the true designer of the red, white and blue banner, according to flag historian Dave Martucci. Hopkinson invoiced the government for the flag design in 1780, asking to be compensated in the form of “a quarter cask of public wine”; but Congress never authorized payment.
— The self-described oldest and largest flag manufacturer in America is a New Jersey company, Annin & Co., in Roseland, which has been stitching patriotic tapestries since 1847.