Undoubtedly, much of the mania and madness that has occurred on top of New York’s bridges has been lost to history, but here are a few stories that managed to live on in the annals of time.
From inspiring views to almost-fatal climbs, the bridges have played host to New Yorkers’ daring exploits and near-deadly accidents since their conception.
Manhattan Bridge: A car hangs from the bridge by its rear axle — and the people in it survive.
On January 9, 1935, two Brooklyn-bound borough residents swerved to evade a crash and, skidding on wet pavement, lurched through the upper roadway’s iron railing and dangled downward at a perilous angle. The car’s rear axle caught on an iron guard, keeping it suspended, and the two men were able to escape to safety through the back door. The Times article does not reveal the fate of the automobile, but it does supply a grainy image of the vehicle hanging threateningly over the lower deck.
Williamsburg Bridge: A mayor climbs to the top of the bridge’s Manhattan tower.
On June 18, 1902, then-Mayor Seth Low climbed to the top of the Manhattan tower during an inspection trip in anticipation of a City Hall announcement that the bridge would open the public the next year. Following the outing, Low complained he struggled to not lose his Panama hat in the tough climb up, which was very dirty due to the steel work being covered in oil, which was used to prevent rust.
Brooklyn Bridge: Police “race” an erratic climber down the bridge’s cables.
An unemployed Brooklyn resident and no-goodnik stopped rush-hour traffic in 1932 when he decided to prance between cables and swing from the ropes of the Brooklyn Bridge in an effort to “think things over.” The police, anxious to get him down, proposed a race, during which they were able to get him close enough to the pavement to grab him.
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