In the 1980s, the Williamsburg Bridge was in particularly bad shape. In the latter half of the decade, May 1987, a six-foot beam fell off the bridge into the East River; in April 1988, the bridge was abruptly closed for two weeks after corrosion was found that presented a "5 percent chance there would have been a failure" of the bridge. While it was eventually decided to renovate the bridge (this process is still ongoing), at the time officials considered replacing it. And that's where the bronze beauty you see above came from. Yes, that is the Williamsburg Bridge entirely covered in bronze mirrors. Crazy, but at least traffic-immobilized drivers could have checked their hair.
Architect Der Scutt, of Trump Tower fame, aimed to "make the Williamsburg Bridge replacement a spectacular landmark," enhancing the structure by sheathing the towers in "five-foot-by-seven-foot reflective panels with fine silicon joints, giving the appearance of a warm, cinnamon-colored reflective jewel in the East River, bringing a new elegance and new life to the surrounding areas in Manhattan and Brooklyn."
Even more extraordinarily, Scutt planned to "culminate" each tower in "a graceful inverted triangular structure that are not only important visually, but have a practical purpose as well. Each tower will house an important public service. The Brooklyn tower, with its breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, will house a two-story restaurant. The Manhattan tower will house a historic bridge museum, chronicling the history of New York's great bridges." At the time, the the NY Times reported that these establishments would have been reached by glass elevators.
"Nowhere else in the world would there be a place such as this," concluded the report, in a glorious feat of understatement. So next time you're stuck on a delayed J or M train, remember that somewhere in another part of the multiverse, you're trapped inside a bridge-sized disco ball.