The George Washington Bridge

This is the only bridge from New Jersey into Manhattan, and the only route that can be walked or biked, accessed by negotiating the tangle of traffic lanes, overpasses, gates, and underpasses that all meet at the toll plaza. Driving from New Jersey, you only see it at the last moment, a shiny steel structure that rises above the Palisades. Walking across is noisy, with traffic rumbling underneath, perpetual traffic jams on the upper level, construction, renovation, exhaust, and an ever-present vibration from the endless streams of lorries crossing it daily. It’s not a particularly pleasant experience. Although walking across is the best way to appreciate it up close, the best view is from the Fort Lee park that presents several vantage points of the bridge, where the traffic and noise are far enough away that the grace of the structure literally shines, 80 years new.

West tower, closeup, the beauty of exposed steel.

Can’t say it better than Le Corbusier: ” The George Washington Bridge over the Hudson is the most beautiful bridge in the world. Made of cables and steel beams, it gleams in the sky like a reversed arch. It is blessed. It is the only seat of grace in the disordered city. It is painted an aluminum color and, between water and sky, you see nothing but the bent cord supported by two steel towers. When your car moves up the ramp the two towers rise so high that it brings you happiness; their structure is so pure, so resolute, so regular that here, finally, steel architecture seems to laugh. The car reaches an unexpectedly wide apron; the second tower is very far away; innumerable vertical cables, gleaming against the sky, are suspended from the magisterial curve which swings down and then up. The rose-colored towers of New York appear, a vision whose harshness is mitigated by distance.

". . . the only seat of grace in the disordered city."


1 comment so far

  1. […] York were mentioned by Le Corbusier in his 1947 book When the Cathedrals were White, one being the George Washington Bridge, then a teenager, the other being the Brooklyn Bridge, a mature 60-something at the […]

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