I have biked over many bridges. I have biked over the Queensboro Bridge, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the Tappan Zee, the Kosciuszko, the Brooklyn Bridge. Over covered bridges in Vermont, over uncovered bridges in Hungary. But until tonight, I had never biked over the Manhattan Bridge.
And, look, I know this is old news, I know everyone else goes over it twice a day, knows its ups and downs, its curves and bumps, but man!–what a bridge. I warn you: this is an ode.
The Manhattan Bridge: so different from the Brooklyn Bridge’s steep climb, where you have to push up and up to prove something to tourists who don’t care and just wish you’d let them take their photo without running them down. (But you will run them down if they step over that line.) So different from the Brooklyn Bridge, with its deceptively friendly wooden-slat path and open views of Lady Liberty.
No, the Manhattan Bridge–it’s for real. The gradual slope, so that you don’t have to throw yourself over the side in shame when some guy on a fixie speeds by you. The view–oh, the view–of neon-lit curtains draped over the windows of the high rise buildings. I saw bedroom windows, beds in bedrooms-–the white comforter, rumpled–a TV on. You bike by the bedrooms, then the world opens up and your wire-gridded view turns down on three kids walking through a parking lot. And graffiti. Remember that? Weird metal work, strange stone arches. The dark unlit patch before more streaky neon.
And throughout: not a single pedestrian ducking and dodging with a camera and seven children. Just the cool night and the rush of the Q train and the smell, then the sound, then the sight of the garbage train heading home.