Tuesday, August 19, 2014


The subway trains I took into Manhattan  - B & Q -   ran underground from Prospect Park (my station) the rest of the way through Brooklyn until they emerged at the Manhattan Bridge.  The designer of this bridge, Leon Moisseiff, wanted to build a bridge faster and cheaper than the Brooklyn Bridge.  He did, and you can tell.  The Brooklyn Bridge is a cathedral. The Manhattan Bridge is an engineering wonder, but not so pretty.  

Still it’s my favorite bridge in New York.


Because when the train emerged from the tunnel onto the Manhattan Bridge, it was breathtaking.  Always.  Night or day, I looked out the window, standing up at the subway door if there was room

First and foremost, to the south, right next to the Manhattan Bridge is the Brooklyn Bridge and visible further in the distance is Lady Liberty.  At night they are both lit up.

And then, there’s the water – acres and acres of water of the New York Harbor.  And water traffic – tankers, the Staten Island Ferry, the Circle Line, the Water Taxi, tugboats, sailboats, cruise ships.  In the air were helicopters and planes.  There were cars and trucks on the bridges and I could see the traffic on FDR Drive running along the East River

Straight ahead and to the north was the skyline of Manhattan.  Turning clockwise, I could see Manhattan, Roosevelt Island, Queens, Brooklyn, Governors Island, Staten Island, Ellis Island, and Liberty Island

As the train reached the other side side of the Manhattan Bridge – entering Chinatown – it passed through a channel of old brick buildings, the kind with fire escapes and wooden sash windows.  The kind of buildings that used to have laundry lines strung between them.  Some now had graffiti on them, others had little billboards advertising electronics, clothing, or public storage.  They all had stories, historic tales of people of all nationalities living there.

On the return from Manhattan, the trains passed through Dumbo (Down Under Manhattan Bridge), a neighborhood of converted warehouses and old freight offices, some on narrow cobble-stone streets.  

People barely making a living used to work here.  Now, millionaires lived here.  Some of the buildings are centuries old – small red brick two-story warehouses with arched doors for horse-drawn wagons.  Others are newer, taller, lighter, maybe only a hundred years old.  Still, full of history and now converted into lofts.

This is the view from Manhattan Bridge.  

At least if you’re looking.

Post by Alana Cash

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