Watch the new decade dawn on the Brooklyn Bridge
Eye on Real Estate: New year, new decade — hello, 2020.
It seems like an auspicious number, since it suggests 20-20 vision.
The dawning of this new decade deserves a grand gesture. I applaud everybody’s plans for champagne toasts at midnight. But I’ve decided to be literal about this, and actually watch the dawn arrive — on the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge.
At sunrise, the pedestrian and cyclist deck of the iconic span will be relatively uncrowded, unless the vast throngs of Times Square revelers decide to migrate down to the bridge for a morning-after party. And you know what? That would be epic.
Those of you who can stay awake till around 7 a.m., please come join me.
You need to be up on the span by then so you can see the sky right before it shakes off its deep gray gloom of night. The bridge is lit up, and Lower Manhattan’s skyscrapers are too, so the scenery’s pretty thrilling.
If you’re wondering why I already have photos of watching the sunrise on the Brooklyn Bridge, I did a test run earlier this month to see what it’s like in the wintertime.
The last time I did a walk at dawn, it was summertime.
In these new pictures I just took, you’ll see that around 7:15 a.m., the sky behind the Manhattan Bridge and DUMBO’s buildings turns delicate shades of pink.
Then the air grows brighter and the sky gets pinker. And bingo! it’s a new day.
After that, if you want to take photos of the bridge’s Gothic arches, it’s best to turn so you’re facing Manhattan and the rising sun is behind your back.
I want to explain why I chose the landmarked Brooklyn Bridge as the place to mark the start of the new decade over all the other iconic New York City spots my heart holds dear.
First of all, I wish to honor the bridge for the profound urban change it brought us. Until it opened in May 1883, there was no span connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan. People and the products of their commerce and labor had to pass between the two places on boats.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle proclaimed the immense importance of the opening of the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge in a front-page May 24, 1883 story.
“Sentinel-like it watches at the eastern gateway of the continent, formidable in its gigantic proportions, picturesque in the sweep of its symmetrical trusses, significant in the purpose of its design and erection, the greatest work wrought by the hand of man within the limit of the quickly vanishing century,” it read.
Second, I wish to honor the Brooklyn Bridge as a feat of engineering and as a stunning architectural design that delights the eye.
Third, I wish to honor the devotion and bravery of the workers who built the Brooklyn Bridge and the lives that were lost during the construction.
Fourth, I wish to honor Emily Roebling for taking charge of the bridge-building project after her husband Washington Roebling, who was the chief engineer, was disabled by the bends (caisson disease is the formal name of what sickened him). The job was finished thanks to Emily Roebling’s determination and political acumen.
Washington Roebling was confined to their home at 110 Columbia Heights and used a telescope and binoculars to watch bridge construction proceed.
Emily Roebling took over daily supervision of the job site, worked as his liaison to the project’s master mechanic Frank Farrington and handled business issues. She managed to keep the mayor of Brooklyn from kicking her husband off of the bridge project, the New York Times’ recently written obituary about her says.
A week and a half before the official opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, a carriage was sent across it to test it out. Emily Roebling rode in that carriage holding a rooster on her lap as a symbol of victory, a story posted on Mental Floss says.
Fifth, I wish to honor the soaring World Trade Center, which is a testament to New York City’s resolute and resilient spirit.
More importantly, I wish to send love, grief and remembrance to the nearly 3,000 people who were murdered in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the thousands of people who have died or are sick now because of their exposure to the toxic dust from the towers’ destruction.
When I’m on the Brooklyn Bridge on New Year’s Day, I’ll wait around for a bit after the sunrise.
After 8 a.m., the sun’s rays should reach the facade of the new World Trade Center and the skyscrapers standing around it. The ethereal sight of those sun-kissed towers will start the decade right.
Eye on Real Estate is veteran reporter Lore Croghan’s weekly column on Brooklyn’s built environment. Whether it’s old as Abraham Lincoln or so new it hasn’t topped out yet, if a building is eye-catching, Eye will show it to you.
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