For Labor Day weekend, my wife and I agreed it was time to get out of town. We needed to see different zip codes, to slip the surly confines of Center City Philadelphia, to give our spirits a lift. So we traded one big town for another and went to New York for the day. In the past, we'd see a show for half-price, but this time we set our sights on bigger things.
One thing that has always captured my imagination is the Brooklyn Bridge, with its sturdy stone towers made almost spiritual by the beautiful Gothic arches and spiderweb of cables and suspenders. To know that a man designed and men built the bridge lets me know we are all capable of higher goals and accomplishments. The bridge transcends being a utilitarian conveyance.
A few years back we read a book, The Great Bridge, by David McCullough, which describes the concept and the building of the bridge as if you were there. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know the political, social, and economic stories of two big American cities separated by more than a river but brought together by a common undertaking.
In lower Manhattan, after paying our respects at ground zero, we took the subway to Brooklyn to start our stroll back across the bridge. It's all clearly marked: Go up a short flight of steps, and you have the whole bridge in front of you.
Many others had the same idea, and they weren't all New Yorkers. From what I heard, people from all over the world had come to see the bridge, and if they are like me, they weren't disappointed.
It's less than 1.5 miles over the bridge, and you are on a suspended walkway so you hardly notice the cars. The walkway affords a good view of both sides of the bridge. Along the way, you are treated to the sights of Manhattan, the river and harbor below, the Manhattan Bridge, and, in the distance, the Statue of Liberty. But the real treat is the bridge itself. From afar the towers look small, but as you approach them, you realize how massive they are. The delicate interlacing of the cables gives the bridge a light, open feeling. You are standing on a work of art.
After strolling back into Manhattan, we rode the subway up to midtown, did some shopping and sightseeing, and caught the train home, all in the same day.
If your spirit needs a lift, spend a few hours on top of the Brooklyn Bridge. And don't let anybody try to sell you the bridge, because I already bought it.