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.

Conquering the Dome

St. Paul's Cathedral Cake

Shortly after facing the dilemma of how to create a dome for my Blue Mosque Architectural Dessert Masterpiece, I saw an gingerbread creation of Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral which used rice crispy treats to form the shape of the domes of this cathedral.  I held onto this idea for almost a year in preparation for my Third Annual Architectural Dessert Masterpiece.

St Paul's Dome  St Paul's Cathedral

For this one, presented and eaten December 2012, I chose St. Paul’s Cathedral.  First, because it has the perfect dome for trying the rice crispy method.  Second, because St. Paul’s was a significant part of my trip to London earlier in the year.  I experienced a wonderful view of the City despite minor issues with heights and major issues with claustrophobia.  I successfully climbed to the top of St. Paul’s (at least as high as they allow tourists to go) and made it back down again.  The first flights of stairs to come back down were particularly challenging as they were very narrow and steep with very short ceilings–it reminded me of the first and last time I went caving as part of a school trip in 8th grade, where I somehow managed to crawl through impossibly small places.  The praise of my teacher, Mr. Wolfe, from that occasion was essential in helping me make it down the stairs at St. Paul’s.  Thanks, Mr. Wolfe, you were my hero this time!!

Top of the Dome Looking Down

In making my St. Paul’s Cathedral Architectural Dessert Masterpiece, the design was influenced by the memory of how long it took to create the Gingerbread Blue Mosque.  I determined to take a quicker route this time around by baking sheet cakes and cutting them out in the shape of St. Paul’s.  Again, I referred to my textbook from my Western Architecture course (see Parthenon Cake post) to determine what the appropriate proportions were in cutting out the shape of the Cathedral.  To approximate the proportions in height, I made a double layer cake, plus additional layers at the towers and dome.

Aerial St. Paul's Cathedral Cake

The dome was made using the rice crispy treat method, which ended up being much more challenging than I anticipated due to the stickiness of rice crispy treats.  It did not work to try and shape the dome in my hands.  I ended up using wax paper to form the shape, but found the rice crispies still stuck to the wax paper, but not as badly as to my hands.  Then, I frosted the whole creation, using chocolate frosting as an accent color to suggest the different color of the domes (including those on the front towers) from the rest of the building.  I also used the chocolate frosting to indicate the break in design from the lower and upper portions of the exterior walls.  Chocolate Crunch Bells were used for the small domes on the front towers.

This one was easy to cut like a normal cake for eating and tasted quite good.

Gingerbread Blue Mosque

Gingerbread Blue Mosque Blue Mosque

Figuring out how to design an accurate representation of the Parthenon out of cake and cookies (see post) was an intriguing task that set me on a new hobby of designing models of existing buildings out of deserts.  Beginning with my second Architectural Dessert Masterpiece, all my creations are based on buildings/structures that I have personally encountered in my urban explorations.

I created my second desert building in December 2011.  While eating the Parthenon the previous year, suggestions were put out about how to create other shapes and buildings such as using jello and creating round shapes.  I was particularly engaged by the idea of how to create a dome.  I had not figured out how to create a dome such as those on capital buildings in the US, but I thought I could create one that would be close to those on the mosques I visited in Istanbul.  I chose the Blue Mosque as a visually interesting structure that would require a diversity of desserts to create.

Gingerbread cookies seemed to be the best way to design the frame of the building given the variety of heights and shapes of the building.  I used sugar cookies for the larger domes and half domes.  I knew someone growing up who was able to create perfectly rounded sugar cookies, no matter how I try I have never been able to create the same effect.  My sugar cookies worked well for the medium-sized domes, but I had to put two cookies together for the larger domes.  M&Ms made great small domes–they were also the base unit that determined the scale of my model.  I think another reason why I chose to create a mosque was so I’d have an excuse to use the Pirouette cookies again, this time as minarets.  I love these cookies, but hardly ever get them.  Using my piping set, I was able to create pointed tops on the minarets and add balconies.

This was by far the most time-consuming Architectural Dessert Masterpiece to create (at least of the four I’ve made so far) because of having to design the required sizes and shapes for the gingerbread cookies and cutting them out and then also baking sugar cookies, which somehow always takes forever.  I also played with “whitewashing” the gingerbread walls, but the method I tried didn’t create the desired effect so I gave up on it.

Eating Architectural Dessert Masterpieces is also an interesting experience, as they often require creative thinking to destruct them.  With the Parthenon, I employed a karate-chop method for cutting through the wafers.  On the other hand, with the Blue Mosque a free-for-all of pulling it apart with your fingers seemed most appropriate.

Gingerbread Blue Mosque Blue Mosque

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