My previous post about the Hart Crane poem, The Bridge, has got me thinking about my own experiences with the Brooklyn Bridge. Nowadays, as I drive home on the BQE in the evening, I see people walking or running or cycling across the bridge, singly or in groups. It wasn't always thus.
In the mid-80's, when I first lived in New York, I worked in midtown and lived in Prospect Heights in Brooklyn. To avoid the rush-hour subways, especially in warm weather (no AC in those days), I used to walk downtown from 48th Street and get the D train, usually at Canal Street. By then, the trains were less crowded and the ride was at least a little shorter.
One evening in spring or early summer, feeling particularly energetic, I decided to keep walking across the bridge and all the way home. It was just after sunset when I got to the Manhattan side of the bridge. About a third of the way across, I realized I was the only pedestrian--all alone above the roaring traffic below. Feeling a bit foolish, I decided to keep going. I think I saw one other pedestrian and one bicycle messenger the whole way across. In those days, the NYC of Bernie Goetz and sharpened-screwdriver muggings, you didn't do stuff like that.
It was just about dark when I got off the Bridge on the Brooklyn side. I walked the rest of the way home, relieved to be on the busy, dirty sidewalks of Flatbush Avenue.
The photo of the bridge in November 1987 is by Chester Higgins of the NY Times. This post is dedicated to my friend Grazyna, who pointed out that when I write about my life, it always seems to involve cars and driving. Here's one about walking.