I was on my way back from a jungle warfare training course in Central America, traveling through Mexico and the US in a beat up Land Rover the last time I crossed Brooklyn Bridge. It was 1994, 110 years after Barnum had brought a herd of 21 elephants (led by Jumbo) across the same bridge both as a publicity stunt for his circus and also to increase public confidence in the bridge’s stability one year after the bridge was completed.
I was less concerned about its structural stability and more about my reliance on an AA map (in a pre GPS era) that I, as the sole occupant of the car, was reliant on. I became hopelessly lost not long after hitting Brooklyn, driving through areas that looked familiar only from watching US crime dramas. Eventually I found my way back and crossed into Manhattan (one of the 120,000 people who crossed the bridge that day including thousands of other tourists) to continue my journey towards Washington and a flight home.
Fortunately, I never had to use what I learned on the Jungle warfare training course despite a tour as a UN peace keeper in post war Sierra Leone but the long journey back home has great memories for me and served as an inspiration for my recently completed ‘Brooklyn Bridge’
Every city that I have lived in has had a bridge that draws attention whether it is the Mathematical bridge over the River Cam which we used to punt many of our visitors under when we lived in Cambridge, the beautiful Tower Bridge in London, or the Ha’penny and Samuel Beckett Bridges in Dublin. Even though bridges are primarily constructed to connect places they often become much more than their primary aim. The Neogothic pointed arches of the Towers of Brooklyn Bridge are as impressive aesthetically as the amazing engineering design that allowed a bridge of 1595 feet (the largest suspension bridge in the world at the time of its building) to be successfully constructed.
Brooklyn Bridge is the first in a series of Bridges that I will be completing as part of a new collection including also Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Forth Bridge, Clifton Bridge, the Ponte Vecchio, the Bridge of Sighs and the London Millennium Bridge. Of course the list can always be expanded (given my love of bridges), so if you have any suggestions…