Two major changes in the five boroughs took place while I was growing up in New York. The construction of the longest bridge and the tallest building in the world!
This past weekend was the anniversary of 9/11.
I wasn’t in New York and was one of millions who sat horrified watching as the planes hit the buildings. It took hours before the reality sunk in, hours for me to realize, this was not a stunt, not a film, no one would yell cut and turn off the cameras for the day.
It played out in real-time, and it is still painful to talk about it.
Instead, I’ll talk about what was on ground zero before that day. The best second-hand book stores, record stores and all around bargain stores in lower Manhattan. My mother-in-law worked for the Federal Reserve and spent at least three of her lunch hours every week picking up the amazing bargains at a store called “The Pushcart.”
The groundbreaking was August 5, 1966 and the Second Tower completed by July of 1971. Once the hole was deep enough, the buildings began moving skyward. At lunch time we walked passed the construction site, while hard hats whistled and hawked with pursed lips.
Several years later, we treated out-of-town guests to the views of the Observation Deck and then to Windows of the World. Unfortunately, for my guests, the night was overcast and all they saw was a gray mist.
Before the hole was dug, before the Pushcart disappeared, there was another structure built, further south along the Narrows. These feats of architecture and engineering were made possible by a man some hated, and distrusted. However, history has judged this giant as a visionary and during his tenure many knew his name … Commissioner Henry Moses.
The Bridge, would be the longest suspension bridge in the world for many years and took five years to build; from 1959 to 1964. The Bridge was a plan that stretched back for decades, a battle royal over public domain and the loss of some of the most valued real estate along the south-western edge of Brooklyn.
For hundreds of families, it was the bridge that was built in their back yards; the bridge that took their uncle’s house; the bridge that was named the Verrazano Narrows Bridge; connecting Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island to Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn.
Standing at the Fort George Ferry slip on 69th Street and looking outwards to the Atlantic Ocean, it looms majestic and silver; the sun light dancing off its curved cables, its tall towers shadowing the landscape.
Adjacent to the old ferry slips is the bike path running parallel to Shore Parkway, extending for miles of beautiful ocean views in one direction and a panorama of the Statue of Liberty and beyond to the Manhattan skyline in the other.
This picture of the bike path and the bridge in the distance is also at the top of my bio.
On opening day, I drove over it three times with my then boyfriend, later husband. The second layer would be added later, but it does not afford the same views. Actually, the best views are from the height of a bus, where unobstructed by the guard rails you can see up and down the Narrows.
This weekend I honor the spirit of those who built two of these magnificent structures and remember those who were lost in one.
Times that were
Read 911-Research for more photographs and amazing stories about the building of the Trade Center. Visit this blog Brooklyn Before Now for more about the building of the bridge.