My love affair with bridges started in the backseat of my dad’s station wagon. Every time we went over one of the Cape Cod bridges my mother, who was afraid of heights, closed her eyes and held onto to the dashboard with clenched fingers, while I pressed my nose against the window, thrilled to be able to see the world from above like a bird.
The freedom of big vistas, water and graceful man-made forms became a part of my daily life when I moved to Oakland, California in my mid twenties. My personal rating system for hikes in the East Bay hills and Marin Headlands was based on the vista and the bridge count. To go to the beach on a weekend, I would sometimes make a three bridge loop just so I could see the world from each span-the Bay Bridge, Golden Gate and finally the Richmond Bridge.
The Golden Gate Bridge was my favorite. It is accessible from above, below, and afar. From Baker Beach I sat and watched ships, submarines go under her arches, watched hundreds of sunsets behind her. For the first years after returning to the east coast, I could be heard uttering a plaintive and wistful cry of “my bridge” every time there was a picture of the Golden Gate bridge on TV.
On Mother’s Day in 2002 my son and I, along with several thousand other people, waited in line for what seemed like hours to have a chance to walk across the Zakim bridge in Boston before it was opened to traffic. It is the widest cable-stayed bridge in North America with 10 lanes. In the very middle of the bridge is a fish lane – huge diamond shaped cut-outs in the deck. These are to let light shine through onto the river below and break up the bridge’s shadow so that the alewife fish swimming upriver to spawn will not get confused. Fraulein Bosch does not offer her services to alewives.
Both Charleston and Savannah have beautiful cable stayed bridges – the Ravenel and Talmadge respectively. There are wonderful photos of these bridges taken by photographers far better than I, but still I couldn’t help myself. How can you not admire this geometry?
And of course when you turn around, there is more geometry hidden in the sand – an attempt to keep the beach from washing away.