The Brooklyn Bridge: Below

The spot below the bridge where they shoot the models.

You can get there two ways. You can go around to the River Cafe, through the lot and the garden, and then, if the gate is open you can go right, and you'll be there. You can also come around the other side, down a street that runs only one block. Both ways put you at the base of the bridge tower, underneath the span, looking at the East river, which swells and flows quickly (it is not actually a river, but a basin of some kind.)

It's all stone. Above you is 300 feet of stone, put there by men in the mid-to-late 1800's. Of course several of them died. Some fell; some were lashed by cables; some descended into caissons to dig and the pressure of the water above them put nitrogen in their blood and bent their bodies forever. Roebling, a dour German, a great engineer, designed the entire thing, and it killed him. His son finished the work, but it killed him as well.

It was built amidst scandal and graft. Public servants were not accountable to the public. In Brooklyn society was still genteel. People built great houses. In Manhattan the roar of commerce was more pronounced. Greed rampaged.

The Woolworth Tower is the most interesting building. The boring Bell Telephone building is there, and the World Trade Towers tip the island away from you, towards New Jersey, both of them grieviously hideous gray, asphalt-colored skywards.

Those towers, though, are worth something: when you are lost, if you can find them, you can find your way home. Their gray mass is a polestar for the stranger in Queens and Brooklyn, or for when you are lost on the angled streets in Chinatown.




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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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