It only makes sense that if you create images of bridges you will have to address the traffic that crosses them. The Manhattan Bridge originally was designed to accommodate carriages and trollies, along with foot traffic. What made it revolutionary for its time (besides being a suspension bridge) was the inclusion of subway trains. As New York City grew and traffic across the bridge became heavier, problems began to arise. Heavier cars began to replace lighter horse-drawn carriages.
“Eventually over years, when one train moved over the bridge one side would be 3 feet lower than the other side, severely damaging the structure.”
My own interaction with the bridge mostly has been by train, sometimes on foot, once by taxicab. While doing field research on the bridge, I had to contend with its traffic in ways I did not expect. Sometimes this shows up in my drawings, but many times I captured it in my photographs. Could “trains, planes, and automobiles” be future themes of exploration in my art?
Trains: The bridge as seen through the window of a subway car and in the reflection of window of the next car.
Planes: I live under the flight path of air traffic to LaGuardia airport. I did not realize how often a plane flies overhead, until I was at work one day in our 8th floor rehab gym. I observed a plane fly over every 4 minutes while exercising with a patient who wanted to enjoy the view. In the fall, Canada geese noisily announce their migration in formation over my rooftop. Pigeons wheel in synchronized circular formation from ledges to rooftops in the winter months. I have yet to see a peregrine falcon.
Automobiles: This traffic light is actually used for train traffic, but it nods to the car traffic that also uses this bridge. To truly capture the best views of the bridge, I would need to cross it in the center lanes of the bridge which are exclusively for automobile traffic – no pedestrians allowed. I could try, I guess, but I really don’t want to get arrested, or killed.
I do have a fantastic picture, however, of a yellow taxicab whizzing by in blur. Maybe that will show up in Phase 3, my color renditions of the bridge.
This concludes Phase 1 of my project: I have twenty five 11×14 drawings in graphite on paper. Next time, a change of medium.