New York Daily Photo Analytics

Friday, November 21, 2008

Circuitous, Sinuous and Serpentine

There is a often repeated quote (1947) by French architect Le Corbusier extolling the George Washington Bridge as the most beautiful in the world. I can't say whether I agree - I have not seen that many of the world's bridges - but I certainly find it beautiful. The open steelwork is very distinctive - I recommend seeing it at night with the spectacular illumination created by Domingo Gonzalez Associates, for which an Award of Excellence was won.
The GW is one of the most important bridges in the city - the only bridge spanning the Hudson river in New York City, connecting Washington Heights in Manhattan with Fort Lee, New Jersey. The Harlem and East Rivers are spanned by over a dozen bridges. Manhattan is an island and its means of egress and ingress are crucial lifelines.
The George Washington Bridge was built during a busy period in New York City's history with completion of the Empire State Building the same year (1931), the Lincoln Tunnel in 1934, the Holland Tunnel in 1927, the Chrysler Building in 1930. The chief engineer was Othmar Ammann, with Cass Gilbert as architect. When it opened it had the longest span in the world; it is now the 4th longest suspension bridge in the USA and 16th in the world. The bridge is the world's busiest. Read more about the bridge here.
Taking decent photography of a bridge does require being on foot - it is quite difficult to get a good photo while driving an automobile from a moving vehicle - I have tried. So I recently made a pilgrimage to the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan specifically to photograph the bridge. It was windy and cold, but the cloudy, overcast day did make for nice photographic conditions. The bridge has a pedestrian walkway - I walked to the halfway point which afforded some great vistas of the Hudson River and the city.
But to get photos of the bridge, requires getting off the bridge and finding a good vantage point. Waterfront park land on the Hudson River shoreline was clearly visible from the bridge, however, no signage was present to find the way down. So - I took a gamble on a path which appeared that it might lead to the water. The path went through various environments - punctuated with litter, graffiti and broken lights.
The walkway turned out to be one of the most circuitous, sinuous, and serpentine. The investment eventually paid off, however. It is here I discovered the beach I wrote about on November 17, 2008 (see here)  and where photos of the Bridge were taken. It also justified use of words like circuitous, sinuous, and serpentine :)


MaCoBra said...

Hi Brain, interesting story about the bridge. Beeing a daily photo blogger makes that you incuire more about your city then I previously did. I am fascinated with the Dutch history of Manhatten/NewYork, do you see a lot reminders of this or is it only the names?
Regards from Marcel

Terry B said...

Another excellent, informative post, Brian. Well done. I'm amused that you were so pleased by getting to use the words circuitous, sinuous and serpentine. I noticed them, but the word that caught my eye was egress. When P.T. Barnum found that people were spending too much time gawking at the wonders of his side show so that he wasn't getting them through quickly enough and therefore couldn't sell more tickets, he installed a sign at the exit that said "This Way to the Egress." It worked.

Brian Dubé said...

MaCoBra - There are very few physical reminders here of Dutch heritage outside of naming.

Terry B - how interesting. I was going to call this posting - Egress and Ingress.

Beth in NYC said...

Brian, you found yourself one of the prettier locations in Manhattan, I think. It's pretty and nice and quiet; far from the hullabaloo of the city. You're right about seeing the bridge all lit up. It's really beautiful. There used to be a schedule that indicated when the lights would be turned on but it seems to be unavailable now.

Getting to that location, though, does take a bit of doing. I found that the easiest way to get there is by bike. The greenway along the Hudson is another great thing for residents. It's mainly a flat, easy ride and there are a few benches around and a water fountain when you arrive at the bridge.

Michael said...

The view back from the George Washington Bridge is peaty good too. If you look South you can see most of Manhattan and Jersey City, to the north is the Cloisters and even the Tappan Zee Bridge.

Anonymous said...

What a faboulus site ,your photos are brillant

Brian Dubé said...

Thanks much. Sometimes with a handful of comments it is hard to assess whether readers like my postings or not.