The Manhattan Bridge arcs up from Chinatown and dips to DUMBO in Brooklyn. It’s a sturdy, workmanlike bridge, but it’s more fun to bike across than the more graceful Brooklyn Bridge to the south. Manhattan Bridge bikers get to look at the Brooklyn Bridge, for one thing. The bike path is right over the East River, instead of suspended over lanes of traffic. And there are no picture-taking tourists meandering backwards into the bike lane.
Exactly six months ago today, I biked home from work with Mark. We weren’t even sure ’til we got there that the bridge had been reopened. He peered over the guardrail as we pedalled furiously, both panicked about getting to the other side. The stench of burning buildings followed us out over the water. We scared each other with wild speculation about what would happen someone drove a truck bomb to blow it up.
“Now we’d land in Chinatown…we’d probably survive. Now we’d get squashed on the FDR Drive. Now we’d land in the river…uh oh. Oh Jesus. There’s no way we could make it from here. Okay, getting lower. Yess! Yess! Brooklyn!”
In Brooklyn, we passed army checkpoints. Charred office documents still fluttered in the streets, and cars parked overnight were covered in a light gray dust. Every single snatch of conversation had the same tone, the same topic. We hadn’t seen the ‘Missing’ posters yet.
These are Mark’s photos of September 11th. I can’t look at them without tears now.