Wednesday, November 19, 2008

the romance of Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn would not be Brooklyn without its eponymous bridge. Waxed romantic by many a novel, films and of course, photographs, the Brooklyn Bridge dominates the waterfront of Brooklyn, and is a tourist destination by itself. Opened in 1883 when traffic was still partly horse-driven and when bridge aerodynamics were imprecise, the bridge was fortuitously designed six times as strong as what was required. So despite its being one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States, it survived the perils of most historical landmarks- modernization. To this day, it still is an important link, heavily used for automobile traffic. Obviously, heavier and bigger trailer vans and buses are already prohibited for physical and preservation reasons.

3 bridges
the Brooklyn Bridge towers over the East River, as shot from the South Street Seaport, Manhattan, New York, the US
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 10s, f/5, 18mm, ISO 100, +1EV, w/ a wide angle adapter 0.66x

Crossing the East River from Manhattan to Brooklyn is a timeless and popular ritual. At the center of the bridge is a designated track for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, at a level higher than the car lanes. Although foot traffic nowadays is largely for leisure or exercise, there are extreme circumstances when the bridge became the main transportation route. The extraordinary event of 911 comes to mind, when cars were banned from the streets at lower Manhattan and people had to cross the East River via the bridge.

Such setting was clearly in my mind too when I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. The date was September 18, a week after the first year anniversary of the World Trade Center attack and my sister accompanied me in visiting the historic bridge. The weather that day was cold, a strong draft regularly gusting about pedestrian ramp. Flags were flying over the bridge towers. Most of lower Manhattan were in a somber mood as security was on high alert.

a flag mounted on one of Brooklyn Bridge's towers. What looked like barbs may just be the clamps holding the vertical and horizontal suspension cables together to form a strong support mesh.

Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan end ny0007
the Manhattan end of the Brooklyn Bridge, near the NY City Hall

My sister worked at a nearby Brooklyn Hospital so we started our journey there. The crossing could be done in less than an hour- the total span of the bridge is just about a mile. We took our time. The view from the bridge is more than exhilarating. New York City continues to define what a metropolis is, and despite the void left from the loss of the twin towers, the skyline of the island of Manhattan still could not be topped.

There are other viewpoints of the Brooklyn Bridge which are splendid for photographic opportunities. I would strongly suggest the promenade at Brooklyn side, especially at night. It is well-developed, safe and convenient, being just a walk away from fabulous restaurants at the elegant Brownstone district. Access is easy. Subway stations at Tillary/Adams Streets are an easy walk. I met up with a chemist-lawyer friend from college one cold December day a couple of years ago and I found out for myself why they say that the view from the banks at old Fulton Street in Brooklyn is a killer, as evidenced by the photo below. One photographic tip: bring a tripod. Long exposure opportunities abound!

this romantic photo, taken at a landing near the old Fulton Street has been exhibited, crowd-curated and shortlisted in Brooklyn Museum's Click photoexhibit (June 27 to August 10, 2008); published in the coffee book of the same name.
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 10s, f/5, 18mm, ISO 100, +1/3EV

And when at the marina area, do not miss the incredible Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. I could not have enough of their arctic cold homemade treats even in such a cold wintry evening.

So today, the Brooklyn Bridge still stands regal, while many bridges built around the same time has disappeared into history. While the skyline of Manhattan shape-shifts all the time, the bridge continues to be the unchanging landmark.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: