What strikes me most about the Brooklyn Bridge is its beauty. As you approach it’s walkway, there is a sense that is thrilling. Here I go, about to walk on a bridge that is magnificent – it’s spires and shapes are geometric and artistic, the views are stunning in every direction, and the fact that I’m afraid of heights, but not on this walkway is amazing to me.
The bridge appears as an apparition of sorts in the midst of the Financial District surrounded by architectural marvels from the 1800’s to the modern day. There are so many people on the bridge, so many languages overheard, so many photographs being taken. It is a destination for the tourist, the photographer, the bicyclist, the jogger, the walker, the poet, and the special occasion enthusiast. Yesterday we were witness to a sea of pink ladies walking the Avon Breast Cancer walk. A fitting destination for a group of women survivors to be walking on a bridge whose completion may not have occurred if not for a woman. For we learned yesterday that Emily Warren Roebling was the wife of Washington Roebling who could not continue construction of the bridge due to contracting caisson’s disease, becoming bed ridden. This was the terminology of the day to describe the same phenomenon that happens to deep sea divers when they rise too fast; too much pressure leading to an imbalance of nitrogen in the blood – we call “the bends.” For 14 years, Emily dedicated herself to the bridge’s completion, educating herself on construction engineering and supervising the bridge’s completion.
The spectacle of the Brooklyn Bridge – the blending of human feat and mother nature; the awe of it all inspires us all. We are not the first to be inspired by the Brooklyn Bridge – in 1878 Walt Whitman was also inspired. He said that his visit provided “the best, most effective medicine my soul has yet partaken—the grandest physical habitat and surroundings of land and water the globe affords—namely, Manhattan island and Brooklyn, which the future shall join in one city—city of superb democracy, amid superb surroundings.” I think Walt Whitman would have enjoyed a Kornblit Tour!