In 1954, the Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in public schools. The Senate censured Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, whose scowling rants about Communist subversion had prompted witch hunts. The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville advised a skinny young truck driver named Elvis Presley to stay behind the wheel.
And a baby-blue railroad bridge was changing the landscape between Manhattan and the Bronx. By its completion a couple of years later, it would ease the ride for suburbanites commuting to Cheever country and long-haul passengers reveling in the red-carpet treatment on the Twentieth Century Limited, a train so famous that it played a supporting role in the Alfred Hitchcock classic “North by Northwest.”
Now the bridge is getting considerably more than a face-lift — a top-to-bottom overhaul that has a price tag of $47.2 million and involves installing new cables to raise and lower the 340-foot-long track sections. Also scheduled are a new electrical control system, new wiring and new power-supply equipment for the third rail on the tracks.
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