The ________________ Bridge

‘Many of [my constituents] were flabbergasted by the cover-of-darkness name change’ – N.Y. State Senator James Skoufis (D)
Ever since 2017, when then-governor Andrew Cuomo named the new bridge spanning the Hudson between Tarrytown and Nyack after his father, Governor Mario M. Cuomo – that christening has met with its share of detractors.   

The Tappan Zee Bridge opened in December 1955, named after the native American Tappan people who once lived in the area, with Zee the Dutch word for sea.

That structure was dismantled in 2017 to make way for a new $4 billion span, precipitating Andrew Cuomo’s campaign to have the new structure known as the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. That same year, a Siena College poll suggested that New Yorkers opposed the name change 47% to 37%.  

Now, there’s a renewed drive to shift into reverse by changing the name of the Cuomo Bridge to its forebear, Tappan Zee. Declaring “that bridge is our history,” an online petition on has gained nearly 300,000 signatures.  

There’s a Tappan Zee Twitter account (@oldtzb) where you’ll find comments about a bill sponsored by New York State Senator James Skoufis (D-Orange County) that would bring back the name Tappan Zee. @oldtzb recently asked, “do I get a vote on this” and called for Governor Kathy Hochul (D) to step in and do something. So far, the Governor’s silence on the subject might be inferred as “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”   

Senator Skoufis says his bill has a “fighting chance for passage” through the state’s Democratic-majority Senate, since a Democrat, namely himself, is the prime sponsor. But he adds, “We are still working to see if enough colleagues support the measure to move it to a vote before the session ends” on June 8, 2023.  

Republicans who want to strip the Cuomo name feel it has been stigmatized by Andrew Cuomo’s resignation as Governor amid a flurry of sexual harassment claims that he has denied.  

But Skoufis says this isn’t about politics for him. “Governor Cuomo rushed this name change through at the 11th hour of budget negotiations, without consideration for the surrounding communities, the bridge’s iconic significance, or the deep cultural heritage of the Tappan Zee name and Tappan people. New Yorkers should’ve had a voice in these renaming discussions, but Governor Cuomo chose vanity over his constituents. The senior Governor Cuomo deserves to have landmarks named in his honor, but let’s pick a highway, bridge or tunnel that doesn’t already have a dedication and that’s befitting of his accomplishments.”   

Skoufis says his constituents want the Tappan Zee name back. “We’ve heard from many folks who were flabbergasted and hurt by the cover-of-darkness name change. This is an iconic piece of New York’s landscape. We’ve also had feedback from members of the Lenape who feel the Cuomo name wipes away some ground they’ve gained in raising cultural awareness about Native American contributions to this state’s founding.”  

Another Transportation Committee member, Assemblymember MaryJane Shimsky, who represents a chunk of Westchester that includes Tarrytown, has been quoted saying there are many other transportation issues that must be prioritized this year over the name-change bill.   

The bill sponsored by Senator Skoufis isn’t the first time we’ve seen a Democratic-led push to change the name. In 2021, then-assemblymember Thomas Abinanti introduced a bill that was a compromise of sorts. His plan would keep both names — calling it the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Tappan Zee Bridge and renaming a landing area on the Westchester side the Governor Malcolm Wilson Welcome Center. In 1994, the bridge was renamed Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge, and his daughter Katharine Wilson Conroy has been quoted saying removing her father’s name makes her “sad.”

















  1. Does anyone still remember that the old bridge bore a sign naming it the Malcolm Wilson Bridge? Perhaps the solution is to put a sign on the new bridge to honor Mario Cuomo, but continue calling it the Tappan Zee Bridge, as almost everyone continues to do anyway.

  2. What’s really the question? It was and should again be the Tappan Zee. The name change makes/made no sense at all.

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About the Author: Larry Epstein