It’s not often I play tourist in my own stomping grounds, New York City. Luckily for me, whenever my friend Mimi is in town, she makes it a point to do something “typically New York” and I usually tag along. So which classic New York City sight did Mimi and some other friends help me tackle this time around? This landmark does not really need an introduction, easily recognizable from the countless movies and TV shows shot and set in New York City. It’s a behemoth of a metal suspension structure, architectural wonder, and engineering feat known as the Brooklyn Bridge.

(FYI: That would be the same Mimi who attended the  Boston Red Sox World Series Duck Boat Victory parade and explored the Arnold Arboretum with me in Boston. She also was present in one of my recent Highline Park visits. I think we can establish that it’s always an adventure when Mimi is around.)

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Full disclosure: I actually had walked across the Brooklyn Bridge once previously a few years ago but that was walking from Manhattan to Brooklyn. This time I crossed the bridge starting in Brooklyn and heading towards Manhattan. It’s not hard to understand why walking in this direction is much more exciting–check out that view of the Manhattan skyline! There was snow on the ground because this picture was taken in February. (While Brooklyn is awesome in its own right, its skyline is not that impressive.)

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This picture was actually taken from the Brooklyn Heights promenade and not the bridge itself, but this is what I was staring at the entire time I was on the bridge.

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It was unseasonably warm the day Mimi, other friends, and I decided to walk across the bridge. Everybody else seemed to have the same idea since it was the first nice day we had had after a long, miserable, and brutal winter. As we crossed the bridge, we admired the unprecedented views of Manhattan and tried to ignore the vertiginous sensation of being able to see cars zooming under our feet through the boards of the walkway. I also got that feeling I tend to get when I realize I’m just some small insignificant dot on such a large expanse. How did we humans come up with something so majestic and ground-breaking?

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 Granite towers with steel suspension cables are the basis of the bridge’s architecture.

 I don’t know much about the Brooklyn Bridge’s history and I can’t even imagine the time, energy, and money it took to design and build such a gargantuan structure. Add to the fact that a pedestrian walkway was part of the original design plans–that’s whole lot of multitasking! When the bridge first opened up to traffic in 1883 after 14 years of construction, there were no cars. Instead, people either walked or rode in their horse-drawn carriages which I have a really hard time imagining!

For more information about the bridge’s history, you can read this article on the History Channel’s website. I highly suggest you watch the video. I learned that it was mostly a female engineer, Emily Roebling, who oversaw the construction of the bridge! (Her father-in-law and husband who initiated the project were unable to fulfill their duties due to poor health.) What a boost to girl power! I wonder how she dealt being a female engineer in the late 1800s?

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I will not look down, I will not look down, I will not look down… focus on the shiny skyscrapers instead.

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These people were doing some kind of sing-a-long activity. I want to say they were some kind of religious group.

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If you’ve been to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, you’ll probably think this wavy looking tower looks familiar. There’s a good reason for that! Frank Gehry, the architect who famously designed the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, also designed this tower. It used to be called the Beekman Tower but it’s been rebranded as New York by Gehry. The views from up there must be phenomenal.

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This is not the greatest picture of One World Trade Center, previously known as the Freedom Tower before people decided that name was too patriotic and decided to go for something a little more low-key (though I personally still refer to it as the Freedom Tower). It is nearly complete and is due to open sometime later this year. It rises at a symbolic 1776 feet,  a direct reference to the year the USA was founded.

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If you have never been to New York City, I definitely recommend walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, especially if it’s nice out like it was the day I took these pictures. If you are prone to motion sickness or are afraid of heights, this may not be for you (though I’ve walked across the bridge twice now and I am not the biggest fan of heights). You’re in for an unique experience with phenomenal views of Manhattan and the East River to behold, not to mention all the people watching opportunities at hand. Just make sure to stay out of the bicycle lanes if you can (which is tough when the bridge gets crowded), or you run the risk of becoming the wrath of some very pissed off NYC cyclists! Oh and best of all? It’s all free!

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