Monday, April 14, 2008

Battle Of The Bridges - Manhattan Versus Brooklyn


Dumbo, my new neighborhood in Brooklyn, is nestled comfortably between two iconic New York City bridges. We have the Brooklyn Bridge to the south, and the Manhattan Bridge to the north. Dumbo lies essentially in between - offering its residents a very difficult choice.

I've yet to hear any bickering in the streets over which bridge is the best - but now that I live here, I'm going to try to change that.

Don't be surprised, if the next time you're in Dumbo you hear the following:

"Hey kid! Quit looking at that stupid, big, blue hulking monstrosity (Manhattan Bridge), and turn your attention towards a REAL bridge - the Brooklyn Bridge!! Go get a Kleenex, you snot-nosed punk!!"


"Listen lady, you better put that camera away and keep walking. What you're aiming at is old as dirt, and built by slave labor (Brooklyn Bridge). If you're gonna take a picture of a bridge, then turn your big ol' self around and snap a shot of that magnificent steel structure over there (Manhattan Bridge)."

I personally believe that I'm very lucky to live so close to not one, but two suspension bridges. They're both very cool-looking. And they both offer a reliable route to and from Manhattan

Because, we as Americans can't accept the possibility that two things could be equally good, how does one decide which bridge is best?

Here are some important criteria that I've identified.

  • Oldness
  • Beautifulness
  • Accessibility and congestion
  • Appearances in film and television
  • Number of Workers who died during construction
  • Number of chief architects who died during the construction, and number of chief architects' sons who went mad and became invalids during the construction.
We could probably debate numerous other points regarding these bridges, but for now, let's leave it at these.

Oldness - Brooklyn Bridge wins by 26 years. It first opened in 1883, at which point it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. The Manhattan Bridge opened in 1909 - a relative teenager compared with the elderly Brooklyn Bridge. First point goes to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Beautifulness - I think there may be some debate on this point. But really, there shouldn't be. The Brooklyn Bridge is a timeless classic. The massiveness of its gothic stone towers give it an indestructible aura. If you don't think that it's much more aesthetically attractive than the Manhattan Bridge, then you are an asshole. Brooklyn Bridge is up 30-Love over the Manhattan Bridge.

Beauty in the form of a stone support tower. The Sophia Loren of bridge towers.

The Rosie O'Donnell of bridge towers.

Accessibility and Congestion - It obviously depends upon construction delays and time of day, but I'd say that in general, the Manhattan Bridge is less congested. The Manhattan Bridge has 7 total lanes open to traffic, while the Brooklyn Bridge has only 6. Additionally, the Manhattan Bridge can handle bus and truck traffic, which the Brooklyn Bridge cannot. This may be bad for congestion, but it's good if you're moving a big truck full of your old crap from an apartment in Manhattan to a new place in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Bridge 2, Manhattan Bridge 1.

Manhattan Bridge as seen from Dumbo. You can almost smell the bus exhaust from here.

Appearances in Film and Television - Both bridges have been filmed extensively. But I actually think the Manhattan Bridge has appeared more often. It's been featured in "King Kong", "Independence Day", "Live and Let Die", some stupid Steve Martin film, and "Armageddon" - among others. But the Brooklyn Bridge is the subject of Ken Burns documentary (cleverly called "Brooklyn Bridge") and is much more recognizable than the Manhattan Bridge. Let's call this one a wash. Still 2 to 1, Brooklyn Bridge is winning.

Number of Workers Who Died During Construction - No need for suspense. The Brooklyn Bridge wins this category by a landslide - similar to the panicked stampede that killed 12 more people soon after the bridge opened. 27 workers died during the construction, including the original designer, John Roebling - who died of tetanus after his foot was crushed in a ferry accident, pretty much before construction even began. As far as I can tell, nobody died during the Manhattan Bridge's construction. That's so lame. Come on Manhattan Bridge!! Can't you at least TRY to win this competition. Brooklyn Bridge is running away with the prize, 3 to 1.

Number of Chief Architects Who Died During the Construction, and Number of Chief Architects' Sons Who Went Mad and Became Invalids During the Construction - Brooklyn Bridge wins again. As mentioned above, the designer died early on. His son, Washington Roebling continued where his father left off, but soon descended into madness due to what must have been an awfully wicked case of the bends (decompression sickness). Brooklyn Bridge wins another one.

Ok, maybe this last one was a little unfair. I've been rooting for the Brooklyn Bridge all along. In my mind, it's not even close, and I've manipulated the score to reflect this.

Let me know what you think.


Anonymous said...

It's tough to disagree with you. Although I think you're a little too hard on the manhattan bridge. Rosie O'donnell? Maybe more like Meredith viera.

Anonymous said...

agreed Brooklyn bridge is da bomb.

JG said...

also, you can run across the brooklyn bridge amidst hundreds of loitering tourists, all the while breathing in the heavenly fumes of the cars and trucks speeding beneath you.

Anonymous said...

Riding the subway across the Manhattan bridge is rad.

Based upon this, my vote is for Manhattan bridge.

Maria said...

Definitely the Brooklyn Bridge. I like your bias.

The Mill said...

The longer I live here, the more I think about it, the easier it is to choose.

Brooklyn Bridge hands down, no doubt.

Congratulations. It's official.

ajlounyinjurylaw said...

The Brooklyn Bridge is amazing because of it's old architecture and intricate design.