Brooklyn Bridge

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Yesterday, as I was writing my post about the Wheeling Suspension Bridge by Roebling’s competitor, I was fascinated to discover that I never wrote a post about my walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I decided to rectify the situation. The more I worked on it; the more fascinated I became. At this point, nearly 5 years after having walked it, all I can surmise is that I must have been very tired and/or hungry while crossing it.

In my post on the Manhattan Bridge, I mention how much more I liked that bridge than the Brooklyn Bridge. I can remember how much more thought provoking I found the Manhattan Bridge, but in looking back at my photos, I am shocked at how uninspiring I found the Brooklyn Bridge. I think it may hold the record for the fewest number of photos I’ve taken of any of the bridges I have walked. Especially, if we look at number of photos versus the length of the bridge. I suppose there may have been some other factors such as the construction zone on parts of the bridge.

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Another factor may have been the fact that the walkway is in the center of the bridge and above level of the traffic. While I remember this as a highlight and an intriguing part of the bridge, I also seem to recall that it may have caused interference with framing any potential photos.

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I will take back some of my comments on the Wheeling Suspension Bridge. While both bridges do have a lot of structural parts holding them up, those of the Wheeling bridge were much more fascinating. This may in part have been because you were able to get up close with them.

Below are the views of the surroundings. On one side you have the Manhattan Bridge and on the other the Statue of Liberty. That is just about the extent of the photos I took from the Brooklyn Bridge.

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I feel that I ought to give this bridge a second chance. If/when I ever make it back to New York City, I think I will have to walk it again (maybe after a good meal). The problem here is that my last trip there in 2012 when I first walked the bridge confirmed for me that New York is really not the city for me and I have no plans to make a trip back anytime soon.

 

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Wheeling Suspension Bridge

Wheeling Bridge - straight on

I had a blast with the Wheeling Suspension Bridge.  First, I was fascinated by how it was squeezed between the buildings on the mainland side.  Second, as an early suspension bridge, it has many parts to ensure that it would stay up, which provided more than the average opportunity to attempt to be artistic in photographing it.

Artsy shot 1

Artsy shot 2

Artsy shot 3

The Wheeling Suspension Bridge was the largest suspension bridge in the world when it was built.  Charles Ellet won the competition to design the bridge over John Roebling.  There are some similarities in style between this bridge and Roebling’s Brooklyn Bridge with the stone piers and suspension ropes.  Before we walked across this one and read the plaque, we were under the impression that it was a Roebling.

Wheeling Bridge.jpg

To continue my discussion with the riverfront uses by the bridges I walk, Wheeling has two different trends than those found in Stuebenville.  On one side of the river (island side), is riverfront housing of surprisingly old construction.  On the other side (city side), is a modern riverfront park with bike trail.

Riverfront homes

Riverfront park

Market St, Steubenville

 

Market St Bridge

On a road trip this summer, one of the goals was to search out and walk interesting bridges.  The first bridge we stopped at was an unplanned eye-catcher.  We went to Steubenville in order to drive across the iconic Veteran’s Memorial Bridge.  Heading south from that bridge, our eyes were caught by this one.  So we took an unscheduled stop to walk across.

This is the Market Street Bridge in Steubenville, OH.  The best part about this bridge was that it marked the first time I walked across a state line by bridge.

West Virginia sign

The other thing that fascinated me while walking this bridge was the uses on along the river.  On the West Virginia side, it was all wilderness at the end of the bridge, but further downriver an active mill could be seen.

Mill view

On the Ohio side, the feature river-side uses were the sewage treatment plant and the jail.

Sewage Plant view

Jail view

The innocent looking brick building is the Jefferson County Justice Center and Jail.  While I can image the sewage plant was probably a long standing use on the river side, the jail appears to be of more recent construction.  After a short internet search, I wasn’t able to find the date of construction of this building, but did find out that this was the third jail.  The second jail was built around 1950 and converted to offices when this building was constructed.  If I were to hazard a guess, I would say this third jail was probably built around the time that the Allegheny County Jail was built on riverside property in the Pittsburgh, PA.  That jail opened in 1995.

I find it fascinating that riverfront property has been used more than once to locate a jail.  Historically, industry settled along the rivers because that was either its main transportation or power source.  Recently, cities have been taking strides to reclaim their riverfront properties as economic boosters in the form of parks and entertainment venues or housing.  In both these scenarios, the uses are placed on the rivers due to the greater economic benefit to be gained from the interaction between the use and the river.  Placing a jail on a river seems contradictory to the view of rivers as the heart of a city’s economy (previously industrially based, now tourist based).

However, the rivers may confer a benefit of another sort to the use of the property as a jail.  When I was recently confined to a hospital room for a week, the sight of the small sliver of river that I could see from my window went a long way toward helping me stay sane.  It also prompted some more contemplation about the siting of hospitals in a way I had never considered before.  The view I had of the river was beyond a sea of parking associated with the hospital and partially blocked by the buildings for a water treatment facility.  There was little of interest to see in the immediate vicinity.  I hope that in the case of the jails, the river view windows are for rooms and the non-river view windows are for offices and/or back-of-house operations.

Big Dam Bridge

Big Dam Bridge signThe name says it all. This bridge was built as the longest pedestrian- and bicycle-built bridge in the country spanning 4,226 feet across the Arkansas River, connecting Little Rock and North Little Rock. It is part of the Arkansas River Trail.

Big Dam Bridge

On a trip to Arkansas this winter, I discovered this bridge and naturally had to add it to my list of bridges I’ve walked across. The intention of my trip to Arkansas was to visit friends but also to get a break from the cold northern winter by heading south. When I bought my tickets in January, the Little Rock region was having 60 degree weather. A month later when I arrived, the high was 26.

View of Pinnacle Mountain from the Big Dam Bridge

View of Pinnacle Mountain from the Big Dam Bridge

View toward downtown Little Rock showing Rebsaman Park

View toward downtown Little Rock showing Rebsaman Park

By the time we reached the half-way point of the bridge, we were frozen stiff. The farther we got on the bridge the stronger the wind got, probably creating a wind chill factor closer to 20 degrees or less. After admiring the views from the midpoint for a minute, the cold and wind forced us to turn back toward the car.On the Big Dam Bridge

Top 10 Bridge Travel SitesWhile I didn’t make it all the way across, I can still say I’ve been on one of the Top 10 Bridge Travel Sites in the US. Now I just have to find the other 9 sites.

Pedestrian Bridges: Chicago

BP Bridge

There are two pedestrian bridges connecting to Millennium Park in Chicago.  The first I encountered was the BP Bridge.  I admired the undulating silver sculpture above as I walked past and was thrilled to discover it was a pedestrian bridge.  My excited was quickly crushed as the bridge was closed to traffic due to construction at the other end.  I realized that I have become quite addicted to bridge-walking.  I was on my way to see The Bean before renting a bike to ride along the lake, when seeing this bridge completely sidetracked me.  I had a desperate urge to walk a bridge.  Fortunately, there was another pedestrian bridge nearby and while it was not nearly as enticing, it had some interesting parts.

BP Bridge The Nichols Bridgeway

The Nichols Bridgeway connects Millennium Park with the Art Institute of Chicago.  Both ends had space-age-like toughs, which I assumed were supposed to be a fancy drainage system.  If their purpose is a drainage system, the upper end by the Institute has failed and been turned into a wishing well.

Lower Trough Upper Trough/Wishing Well

The part I liked best about this bridge was that while it looked like the surface was level, there were ridges or “speed-bumps” every few feet.  I wondered if these were merely artistic or if they had a functional value like reducing the slipperiness of the bridge during icy conditions.

Bumpy Walkway The Nichols Bridgeway

What is a Bridge? Chicago Edition

Stetson Ave, Chicago, from the Hyatt

In July 2012, a few months into the height of my Pittsburgh Bridge-walking, I pondered the definition of a bridge in What is a Bridge? and What is a Bridge? Part II.  Asking what a bridge is may seem a little odd.  After all, it’s one of those things that you know it when you see it.  Yet, in walking bridges, I’ve discovered it really isn’t that simple (see the previous posts for more).  In everyday life, the actual semantics of what a bridge is, is not important–you either cross it or you don’t and move on with your life.  But if you’re trying to walk as many Pittsburgh bridges as you can (as I am) or count the number of bridges a city has to see which has the most of any city in the world (as others have), spelling out a clear definition of a bridge becomes important.  By the end of my previous posts on the definition of a bridge, it seemed like I had covered almost all the difficulties: is a bridge still a bridge if it no longer bridges anything? what’s the difference between a bridge and a ramp? how many is one bridge?….then I went to Chicago and faced a new facet to this problem.

The issue Chicago brings up is best illustrated by the image above.  Is there a bridge in that picture?….No, right?….Try again.  If you walk past the buildings on the right, you get a new perspective on the seemingly solid ground you stand on.

Discovering Ground Level on Stetson Ave Looking Back Toward Hyatt on Stetson

Walking around on this street and the blocks around it, you may notice metal joints like those normally found only in bridges running across the roads and sidewalks.  You may also feel the ground bounce like a bridge as a large truck drives by.

Metal Joints across road and sidewalk on Michigan Ave Metal joint across road on Columbus Drive

Are these roads, then, really bridges?  If not, what are they and where do the bridges end (such as the Michigan Ave bridge across the Chicago River, visible in the back left of the image above-left) and the other begin?

Manhattan Bridge: A Multimodal Link

The Manhattan Bridge

When I was planning my walk across the Brooklyn Bridge while in New York City last December, I noticed there was a bridge nearby called the Manhattan Bridge.  I decided to cross to Brooklyn by the Manhattan Bridge and return to Manhattan by the Brooklyn Bridge.  The Manhattan Bridge ended up being the more interesting of the two bridges.

Gateway to the Manhattan Bridge

I found my way from the subway stop to the Manhattan Bridge by following the way-finding signs for the bike lanes in the Lower East End.   This brought me to the left side of the bridge, where I was temporarily upset to see that pedestrians were not permitted to use the sidewalk on that side of the bridge–it was dedicated to two-way bicycle traffic.  I was concerned that I was not going to be able to walk across this bridge and instead would have to cross the Brooklyn Bridge twice (I try to avoid walking across a bridge just to walk back across it; doing so gives me a sense of pointlessness).  Luckily, there are sidewalks on both sides of this bridge (from walking Pittsburgh bridges I know not to assume that bridges have sidewalks on two sides) and the sidewalk on the right side is dedicated to pedestrians.

I suggest that NYC puts up a sign on the bicycle side to direct pedestrians to the other side, which might help encourage pedestrians to follow the traffic directions set up on this bridge–I watched a pedestrian ignore the bicycle-only signs to cross the bridge on the bike lanes.

The Pedestrian Side

This bridge is the most multimodal bridge I have walked with the bike lanes on one side, pedestrian way on the other, and the subway and roadway in between.  While I approve of this welcoming of alternative transportation methods, I am not sure about placing the pedestrians next to the subway tracks.  This does give a barrier between the pedestrians and the noise of the cars, but instead, the pedestrians have to deal with the noise of the subway, which while it is less constant than the cars, it is a little more startling/disturbing.

The Manhattan Side The Brooklyn Bridge

The neighborhoods the Manhattan Bridge links had some similar physical elements, but are clearly used by different populations.  The populations on both the Manhattan and Brooklyn sides use their rooftops, but for different purposes.  On the Manhattan side, the rooftops were covered in graffiti, while the Brooklyn rooftops had new additions and places to sit.  There were also parks on both sides of the East River.  However, the Manhattan side only had a baseball diamond while the Brooklyn side had a carousel and a pirate-ship playground.

Manhattan side park

Carosel Pirate Ship Playground

What intrigues me most about the Manhattan Bridge is that I had never seen or heard of it before and yet it is the bridge shown in the background (multiple times) in the Doctor Who episode “The Angels Take Manhattan.”  Based on my walk on the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, it looks like these shots were taken on the Brooklyn side of the river, in which case it seems like it possible to get the Brooklyn Bridge in the background instead as these two are close together on that side.  To me the images of the Brooklyn Bridge say New York, while (at least before I walked it) images of the Manhattan Bridge just say a place with a bridge and hence water.  I wonder if the Manhattan Bridge is better known in the UK than in my circle?

View like that used in Doctor Who