Thursday, August 27, 2009

Two Bridges

Brooklyn, New York

The Gatsby-esque Brooklyn Bridge is gothically grandiose, its masonry as imposingly human as the lives lost during its construction and the dreams it represented. Completed in 1883, the idea of spanning the East River between City Hall in Manhattan and Brooklyn, not considered a borough of NYC until 1898, had been considered as harebrained as they come. I mean, Brooklyn was called a "Twin City" to Manhattan in the famous Emma Lazarus poem on the Statue of Liberty, so it wasn't a matter of noble savages or anything, but that river was big, dude.

Most people at the time(unschooled as most of as are in matters of advanced engineering,) didn't believe it could be done. "Poppycock," a proper Englishman might call the endeavor. Instead, all the laypersons watched as the massive bridge was erected. (haha.)

Of course, back in the the 1880's they had ferries. Imagine what it was like in the 1650's when the land was mostly used for agriculture, and you had to rowboat across the East River. These days, I cross from Manhattan to Brooklyn and back again like it's nobody's business, without a care in the world about strong currents or wolves kickin' around.

Manhattanies and Brooklynites back in the day (also known as the Lenape tribe) were river people, farming maize and burning crops 'cause they knew it was good. I'd like to have been alive at this time, chillin' in what's now Red Hook in a marshy inlet, fishin'. I'd like to be both a wise, elderly grandma and a fifteen-year-old boy. (I figure if I shoot for both wisdom and innocence in my fantastical vision of myself as a Lenape Indian, when I finally do time-travel I'll be 50% more likely to arrive at my destination in a consciousness with the best traits on both ends of the age spectrum.)

The Brooklyn Bridge is so historically majestic that just being in its presence lends a certain gravity to the moment.

The Manhattan Bridge, on the other hand, is a utilitarian's dream.

Its efficient subway lines and hospital-aqua paint job are wrought with the steely will of the Industrial Revolution or an Ayn Rand novel.

No, the Manhattan Bridge wasn't a first. It isn't a beauty. It breaks no records. It most likely figures less prominently in photographs than other city landmarks.

How would it feel to forever compare unfavorably to one's neighbor? At least people are mobile.

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