New York Daily Photo Analytics

Friday, January 25, 2008

Connections

Bridges are typically very important structures, always providing that essential connection between here and there, but I can't imagine any place where they are more critical than in Manhattan, an island in a city of islands ( 4 out of 5 boroughs are islands or on islands - only the Bronx is on the mainland). Our survival is absolutely dependent on bridges and tunnels. Perhaps this is the one of many reasons bridges are so iconic here - we have many, they are well known and they are lifelines. Anything so essential that is simultaneously well designed takes on an additional beauty - that classic weave of form and function. Add to the equation the vistas and lights at night and you have a formula for the romantic.
The intricate steelwork of the cantilevered Queensboro Bridge (formerly the 59th Street Bridge) has an attractive quality. It was designed by Gustav Lindenthal in collaboration with Leffert L. Buck and Henry Hornbostel and completed in 1909. You can read about its history and construction here. It is an NYC icon - one of the most recognizable bridges in the city. Some of my feelings about the bridge, however, are tarnished by my initial experience of it during its decades of neglect (it went through a renovation in 1987). In those early years, I saw it primarily from a utilitarian perspective - to get in and out of Manhattan and to afford vistas of the city and the river. It was more a symbol of what it could provide than a thing of beauty.
If you want to see a true love affair with new York City, I highly recommend Manhattan by Woody Allen - its opening montage of city images set to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue is wonderful, culminating with a fireworks display with NYC as backdrop (you can see the intro clip here.) There is a scene in the film, used in posters for the film, of Woody and Diane Keaton sitting on a bench with a view of the Queensboro Bridge - click here.
This image, enmeshed with Gershwin, is one of my strongest connections to the bridge ...

Note about the film - be forewarned, however. Woody plays a 42-year-old who is dating a 17-year old high school girl. A little disturbing, almost foreshadowing his real life involvement with Soon-Yi Previn. Art predicts life again ...

Note about the photo: This photo was taken on East End Avenue looking south

6 comments:

Lucy said...

I saw something on tv the other day that referred to Woody Allen and his "daughter-wife" for laughs; kind of sad to have so much that is appealing and iconic about Manhattan mixed up with that which is so unappealing...

Anyway, the Bridge is there for all to see and it looks great here...

Rian said...

Is that a cablecar? Is it open to the public? Like, can I hitch a ride on it? =D

Brian said...

rian;
That's the tram to roosevelt Island. It's a great ride for the cost of a subway. See my posting on it here:
http://newyorkdailyphoto.blogspot.com/2006/07/tram.html

April said...

I always remember a shot of the Queensboro Bridge in the 1958 film, "Auntie Mame". It's a fake backdrop of coarse, but as the character lived in Beekman Place, it fit and looked gorgeous.

marley said...

I really like the still from the film. Nice post, I never really thought about the importance of bridges until now, especially in New York.

Stufsocker said...

Actually, the Marble Hill neighborhood is on the mainland, but considered part of Manhattan. The body of water cutting it off from the rest of Manhattan was man-made in the late 1800s (or thereabouts).