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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • SPANGLES: THE CONTINENTAL CIRCUS

Bridge in Progress: 1908

Bridge in Progress: 1908

New York, July 15, 1908. "Temporary footpath, Manhattan Bridge." 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

 

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High Anxiety

I'm getting a mild case of vertigo just looking at this. To actually stand on that path would be too much for me. I'd be flat on my stomach in an instant, slowly inching my way to safety.

Vertigo!

It makes me a little queasy just looking at the picture. There's nothing to grab onto and you know that setup swayed like crazy in the wind!

From Brooklyn

Based on the piers on the opposite short this appears to be looking from the Brooklyn side, approximately Plymouth and Adams Streets.

During the bridge renovation

During the bridge renovation in the 1980s I walked across. At one point I looked down through the boards and froze. I had to be helped off and I'm having the same feeling looking at this scene. Oh baby, that engineer is one brave dude. And the iron workers. Heroes to me because their bravery enables me to drive across.

Is that an old HR Dayliner?

Can anyone identify the name of the excursion boat/ferry plying
its way north beneath the temporary walkway?

Dark and Stormy Night

Twenty five years ago I climbed one stormy night to the top of the Brooklyn side tower of the Manhattan Bridge. That was done with the help of a series of ladder rungs that are mounted inside the towers. At the top at I could barely do more than peek my head out of the trapdoor at the top of the tower. I can't imagine being the guy on this wooden footpath. But what a view.

The Lens-Grinder's Dream

It's hard to imagine, today, just how much skill and daring went into making this photograph. It's also sort of "post-modern," in the way that one photographer is taking a picture
of his colleague, further up the span on that shaky-looking walkway. But the real beauty of it is that almost everything is in sharp focus, right up to the feet of the second cameraman.

A small piece of finely-ground glass, a photographic plate, and a couple of tripods, that was all it took to produce this image... that, and the courage to take the equipment up there.

Maybe it was easy: "Just don't look down!"

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