Thursday, December 31, 2009

The maligned Manhattan Bridge

The Manhattan Bridge is my lifeline to the "Big City," but it's celebrating its sort-of centennial without party hats and "Auld Lang Syne." The span has an image problem, exacerbated by its portrayal in the movies. On film, the Brooklyn Bridge is host to romances, high drama, and spectacular cataclysm (think the U.S. Godzilla reboot, or Cloverfield), while the Manhattan Bridge inspires...suicides. Think The Lonely Guy, where lonely guys like Steve Martin and Charles Grodin consider taking the plunge; or Luv, where Jack Lemmon does the same; or 1961's Something Wild, where Carroll Baker nearly ends it all, only to meet a stranger fate in the arms of rescuer Ralph Meeker.

I'd think about offing myself, too, if I walked across or biked the bridge on a rainy bad day, as I squeezed my frame along its narrow pathways while the N and D trains rumbled by noisily. On the other hand, the view from the trains is a treat, taking in the Statue of Liberty (and the scene-stealing Brooklyn Bridge) and a nice sliver of Chinatown as it descends into Manhattan. Someone should film that and uplift the bridge's profile.

As we ring in the New Year, may your prospects be Brooklyn Bridge, but remember that those Manhattan Bridge days build character. And the news isn't ever all gloomy: Sergio Leone gave the Manhattan Bridge a shot at immortality with an iconic Water Street view in 1984's Once Upon a Time in America.

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