New Thing #291: Going To The Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn_BridgeThe Brooklyn Bridge, as a tourist attraction, is one of those things for most people that if you live in New York, you don't really visit it as a tourist. So it may or may not surprise you to know that I've only ever been to the bridge twice in my life.

And I've never walked all the way across it.

Actually, I'm not sure I've even ever driven across it. It's just not a route we took all that much - first as a family, and later as a driver myself.

But the two times I've now been to the bridge have both been in adulthood - first, with my wife (who was then my girlfriend), probably about ten years ago, and the second with my dad just last week, after reading The Great Bridge.

Know this about me and bridges: I'm not a very engineering-minded person.

There are certain structures that are near-impossible for me to figure out.

You want to frustrate me? Give me one of those assignments where you get 20 pieces of paper, a couple of pieces of tape, and tell me to build a self-standing structure. Something like that. I just can't do it. (I remember one day in sixth grade or so where that happened. Not a good day at school.)

So a bridge? To me a bridge is a structural miracle.

I appreciate the beauty of the Brooklyn Bridge. The first time I visited it, with my wife, was about the view of the bridge, the views from the bridge. The second time, with my dad, was about understanding. How exactly does a bridge work?

We didn't make it far out on the bridge. (It turns out, maybe I was wrong before - either more New Yorkers than I thought treat the Brooklyn Bridge as a tourist attraction - ate least on Sundays - or there are a lot of people out for exercise on the bridge on Sundays. Or, at least, on this particular holiday Sunday.) It was crowded, and I was pushing up against the time I was supposed to be watching football, so we cut our bridge visit short.

But I got a good look at the trusses, the cables, and the wires I read about in the book - all important structural elements. I think.

See, I'm still learning. Some day I'll go back and take a closer look at the towers. And maybe I'll walk all the way across the bridge.

I'll never be able to design or build a bridge, whether it's out of steel or stone or popsicle sticks and paper.

But I'm working really hard to understand them.