Bridges are designed and built to provide an easy passage over a physical obstacle, i.e. a body of water, and connect lands. As such, they are probably one of mankind’s greatest innovations. Without them, many would probably still be suffering slow-moving boats to get from one place to another.
They are also a source of inexplicable fascination for many, must-see structures for tourists to visit, behold, and photograph; their individual designs, originally intended by engineers to serve their individual purpose, turning them into beautiful works of art that attract people like moths to a flame.
Cases in point are New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge. Each day, hundreds of people, tourists and residents alike, visit them in wonderment, walk over them, and even leave attach love-locks to them, taking familiar photographs of them like they would Paris’ Eiffel Tower or Yosemite’s landscape.
In those throngs of visitors, however, only a small number know that these two bridges, along with the Williamsburg Bridge, the Queensboro Bridge, and the Hell Gate Bridge, were born out of the city’s golden age of bridge building, circa 1870s to 1920s. This month, as the construction of the replacement Tappan Zee Bridge is underway, a collection images from that golden age emerge, as if to remind us that it took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to build these structures we idealize so much.