Dave "The Bridge Man" Frieder spent many years climbing to the top of New York City's bridges, photographing views most of us will never see with our own eyes. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which turns 50 years old today, may be disliked by many, but remains one of his favorites (despite being attacked by the peregrine falcons while he was shooting from it, he told us earlier this year). Frieder sent in the following reminiscence to commemorate the bridge's anniversary:
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is one of my favorite New York bridges. This was the last bridge designed by the great Swiss engineer Othmar Herrmann Ammann. It is certainly the longest suspension bridge in North America (main span) and the tallest in New York City at 693 feet. It is actually a “Cousin” bridge of the George Washington Bridge.
I really miss the days before 911 climbing the Verrazano and getting thousands of photographs of this magnificent structure. Many times I would walk down the main cables to mid-span and then walk back up. This was not easy carrying 60-70 pounds of photographic equipment.
I used film then and I continue to use film today. Only film allows me to complete my visualization of what I saw on the Ground Glass or viewfinder. The Verrazano has some of the most incredible lines of all the bridges in New York City. Every time I went to the bridge whether photographing on the cables or at ground level there was a new image I could capture on film. In my eventual coffee table book I will certainly have photographs of the Verrazano that will show how magnificent this bridge truly is.
Of course, not everyone loves the way the bridge is managed—today all local Staten Island officials, as well as Brooklyn Borough President Adams, are boycotting its anniversary, frustrated by the high toll, which may soon be raised from $15 to $16. (Today the NY Times investigates the myth that the bridge was supposed to be free.) In a statement released by Adams, the BP said, "This bridge physically unites our two boroughs, and it has again united its elected representatives in response to the exorbitant tolls that Brooklynites and Staten Islanders pay to cross this span, at a time when the MTA is considering what would be the fourth fare and toll hike on commuters in seven years. There is nothing to celebrate until our city’s commuters can finally receive the Verrazano toll relief that they deserve."
Nevertheless, a 50-cannon salute and a fireboat water display will be part of the anniversary ceremonies, and that takes place on both sides of the bridge.