October 23, 2015 7:00 AM EDT

When the George Washington Bridge was dedicated on Oct. 24, 1931–84 years ago this weekend–the 3,500 ft. span connecting Manhattan and New Jersey was the longest bridge of its kind in the world. Even more incredible, it was built under budget and ahead of schedule (the bridge took almost exactly four years to complete).

So it was only fitting that New York and New Jersey pulled out all the stops for the dedication ceremony, as TIME reported:

The very next day, as the photos above show, the traffic began. But the George Washington Bridge did far more than frustrate drivers. On the other side of the country in San Francisco, officials had long been considering their own towering cable bridge. The GWB made it seem possible, TIME reported. The Golden Gate Bridge opened about six years later.

Read the full story from 1931, here in the TIME Vault: Biggest Bridge

Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.

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