Grandeur and Cheese At The Brooklyn Bridge

Home Brooklyn Life Grandeur and Cheese At The Brooklyn Bridge

By Jack Mirkinson
The Brooklyn Bridge is a cliché, and to think of it is to summon well-worn phrases about majesty and elegance and history. Yet things become iconic for a reason, and when you step onto the Brooklyn Bridge, all of the cynicism you might feel drops away, and you are left with this truth: it is beautiful.

The Brooklyn Bridge, of course. (Photo: Yeebo/The Brooklyn Ink)
The Brooklyn Bridge, of course. (Photo: Yeebo/The Brooklyn Ink)

It is beautiful from any angle, with those soaring stone towers and that intricate spiderweb of suspension cables that seem to wrap the bridge up in a kind of haze.

The grandeur is there when you walk across the bridge, even when you are surrounded by cars and tourists. The cars rumble past on either side of the wooden walking paths. The tourists trundle past just about everywhere you look.

Yesterday, a woman surrounded by three of her companions looked at a picture of the bridge she was holding in her hand. She then pointed up to the actual bridge directly in front of her, as if to confirm that the group really was in the right place. Just ahead, a tall British man was speed-walking, only to find that a pair of older women—their conversation sounded vaguely Dutch—were cramping his style. He bobbed and weaved behind them as they ambled along. Finally, he could take no more, and brusquely pushed past them with a derisive “Excuse me!” The women seemed not to notice.

Just look up! (Photo: Yeebo/The Brooklyn Ink)
Just look up! (Photo: Yeebo/The Brooklyn Ink)

The high point of any suspension bridge is that moment when you get to an actual tower, and the sheer weight and heft of it looms over you. It makes sense, then, that the towers attract clusters of tourists posing for pictures and milling about.

On this day, it had attracted a horde of small children on a class field trip. They were all sitting down, munching on cheese and crackers. The kids were focused on the cheese, not the bridge. A girl yelled out “statue of cheddar cheese!” Her classmates picked up her battle cry. The children leapt in joy to say it.

This made the teachers and chaperones very jittery. “Please stay sitting down,” they started saying. “Max, Rose, can you sit down?”

The tower. (Photo: Yeebo/The Brooklyn Ink)
The tower. (Photo: Yeebo/The Brooklyn Ink)

One of the adults—a thin man with a gray beard and a yellow windbreaker—was especially agitated. “You just have to sit down for one more minute,” he kept telling the children. “And then we’re going to walk right back.” Soon enough, they did. The man in the windbreaker led them back to Brooklyn, telling them to “watch the edge, watch the edge.” The fact that they were all at least two feet too short to fall over the edge of the barriers on the path and into traffic did not comfort him.

They all made it safely to the other side. The beautiful bridge faded behind them. Ahead of them was the sign reading “Welcome To Brooklyn—How Sweet It Is!” The borough was welcoming them back with open arms, like so many millions before and after.

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