Between 1901 and 1903, the New York City Department of Bridges presented plans for a new swing bridge at 207th Street (Fordham Road) before the Board of Estimate. Gustav Lindenthal, the commissioner of the newly created New York City Department of Bridges, favored a lift bridge, then a new development in bridge engineering. The city was not eager to spend on this expensive design, and when the opportunity was presented to make use of the original Broadway Bridge span (which was about to be replaced by a dual-deck swing span), the city seized it. In August 1903, the War Department approved plans for the bridge, provided that allowances were made for navigable vessels at Fordham Landing, and the Board of Estimate subsequently approved the bridge.
Alfred P. Boller, who designed the Madison Avenue, 145th Street and Macombs Dam swing spans, created the design for the University Heights Bridge. In November 1903, work began on dredging and building the center pier on which the draw span was to rest. The center pier and side piers were constructed of masonry. The steel draw span, which was originally constructed over the Harlem River Ship Canal in 1895, was lifted from its pier, floated down the river and lifted onto the new center pier in June 1906. New machinery was installed to control the draw span.
This NYCBridges page gives a full history of the University Heights Bridge, from its inception as a footbridge in 1881 to its modern-day conditions. The story includes details about Gustav Lindenthal and Alfred P. Boller, both of whom were involved in the major changes to the bridge in the early 20th century. A useful resource anyone researching the history of New York bridges, even those in need of some structural details.