Greenpoint, October, 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bridge for Bess - Option 2

(Photo: Wikipedia)
The closest Bridge to where Bess Myerson grew up in the Sholem Aleichem Houses is the Broadway Bridge. A pretty undistinguished structure but a fascinating history. It connects the far northern end of Manhattan to Marble Hill, just a few minutes walk to Bess's childhood home on Sedgewick Avenue in Kingsbridge. The bridge not only carries Broadway across the Harlem River, on its long and winding journey to Albany, but three IRT subway tracks. It has narrow sidewalks on either side. And it's a lift bridge. It's multitasking suits Bess's own.

The first bridge at this site was built in 1693. The King's Bridge was so named because it was the property of the King of England. If you weren't a British soldier or representative of the Crown, you paid a toll to use it. Which led to the construction of the so-called Free Bridge by merchants and farmers in 1758. According to the DOT's Harlem River Bridge site, this constituted a revolutionary act--it seems building bridges does not always build bridges.

The current bridge was opened in 1962, the year of Bess's second marriage (to Arnold Grant), and just after completing her appearances on Allen Sherman's I've Got a Secret celebrity quiz show. Here she is (second from right, as if you needed to ask) with other cast members announcing a move to Monday night.

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