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GES174 - Manhattan Bridge, NYC

In some ways, this bridge is almost an identical one to it's neighbour to the north, the Williamsburg (seen up river in the pic below). It was completed a few years after the Williamsburg, in 1909. It's 2.1km long, and 42m at the highest point of the deck span. The towers are identical in height to the Williamsburg, at 102m high. Apart from an abortive attempt on the Williamsburg, this was my first bridge climb in New York City, and my second anywhere (the Albert Bridge in London being the first). I went with GE074, who was accompanying me on this trip.

The belly of the beast, untold tonnes of steel.

Our first night in the city, and not long off the plane, we walked over all 3 of the so called BMW bridges. This one looked pretty straight forward. We'd had intel from a popular Canadian explorer, backed up by our host for our stay in NYC. We climbed up to the first section of the Brooklyn tower (if you look on the pic below, you can see it bulges just above the roadway deck on the towers). This is the start of the real ascent, a single 50m ladder with no protection rings around you. It's just straight up! As people who know me, and have read other lofty explores from me will know, heights aren't my favourite thing. I was glad GE074 was there, as he shot up like a rabbit (if rabbit's climbed ladders). I talked to myself a bit as to whether I was actually going to do this. Unknown to GE074, I wasn't actually planning to climb at all, just sit happily on the tower base.

However the sense of the occasion, and that I was actually here, meant I should at least climb a bit. There are five cross sections up each side of the tower, and as one passes each one, there is a sort of resting spot, where one squeezes through to the next section. I got up to the first of these and sat looking down at the cars whizzing by below. i looked above me at the next 10m section before the next rest point. 'I can make that.' I thought, and set off for the next section. I wrapped one arm around the back of the ladder, and the other hand reaching up for the next rung at the front.

I reached the the second section rest point, and sat briefly watching the traffic below, smaller than the last time I stopped. I concentrated on the buildings by the shore, making it seem less high. I completely forgot that I was visible should anyone look up or pass by in a chopper. After a couple of minutes i adjusted, and set off for the next section, gripping the ladder for dear life. Any mistakes here would be fatal. I kept this up for the third and fourth section, until finally I only had one section left to go. 10m from the top of the ladder. Again I tucked my stomach into my mouth, and climbed. This wasn't me climbing, it was like a robot had taken over my limbs. Finally I arrived in this walkover gantry at the top of the ladder, climbing off the ladder was a sense of relief.

Walking across the metal walkway and looking down to the tiny cars below was terrifying. Again, the robot controlling me pushed me forward, and I got onto another ladder, that lead up into the very small saddle room at the top of the bridge tower.  Shot at high ISO, apologies for quality.

This is what qualifies for the saddle room at the top of the Manhattan. A coffin like structure of steel and rivets. I met GE074 again here, and held his bag while he disappeared off into the top of the structure, reaching the inside of the dome at the very top.

He seemed gone for ages, and so I set about popping up to the top. This involves lifting a flap at the top, and popping one's head out like a gopher. However unlike a gopher, the views were not of a green meadow, but the buildings surrounding the Brooklyn side of the bridge below. It was truly beautiful. There is ongoing work on the bridge, hence the scaff wrapped around the cable on the left.

'The top of the toppermost Johnny', so sayeth The Beatles in a Hard Days Night. This was obviously the top of the bridge and the domes at the top. One can also see that this is barely 2m wide! I know some have happily climbed around up here, but I was happy to just sit.

A shot I'm pleased with, the river span and Manhattan bridge tower. The white light line that runs through the middle of bridge is for the subway trains. Unlike the Williamsburg, the bridge vibrates rather heavily when a train passes. Taking a shot when a train is passing below is somewhat fruitless.

Having taken in the view, and conscious  of how long we'd been up here, it was time to descend. I happily went first, while GE074 took a few shots out of the flap. I figured I'd take a while to descend, but i pretty much went straight down. My camera bag meant I had to twist to the side at each of the 4 cross sections on the way down, a terrifying moment on a scary descent. I was so happy to reach the base of the tower, I wouldn't of cared if a squad of cops were there to great me. Happily there weren't. I took a celebratory photo of what to me was a personal high and sense of achievement. I then waited for signs of GE074 descending, hoping he didn't have any problems.

We then dropped back onto the deck together, and quickly walked off the bridge, praying not to see swirling lights on top of a car at the bottom, and there weren't. A high five, and we went to take care of the Williamsburg bridge as well. A busy night.



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