Where it came from:
Named after Polish military commander and American Revolutionary War fighter, Kazimierz Pulaski, the Pulaski Bridge connects Long Island City in Queens to Greenpoint in Brooklyn over the Newton Creek that leads into the East River. The bridge is named so because the large Polish-American population Greenpoint, serving to acknowledge and represent those residents. The bridge was opened on September 10, 1954 and was built to replace the Vernon Avenue Bride, which had previously linked Vernon Avenue in Queens with Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint as a connection between the two boroughs over the Newton Creek. The construction cost the city $11,228,000 but made Brooklyn more accessible from the north side.
Due to the dramatic increase in bicycle use in Brooklyn over the past decade, bike lanes have been added to numerous streets across New York City. According to Streets Blog, the lack of adequate bicycle facilities on the Pulaski Bridge spurred the NYC department of Transportation to study the possibility of the dedicated bicycle lanes on the bridge. The studies began in November of 2012 and were expected to only take a few months, but to this point bikers are still sharing the side of the bridge with walking pedestrians, making it unsafe to cross, especially at night when it is more difficult to see the bicycles coming by and we have to rely almost entirely on our sense of hearing. When we visited Greenpoint at night and walked along the bridge there were at least 7 bikes that passed by in a span of 5 minutes, not one of which had lights on the front of the bike. Due to the combination of the narrow pathway and the poor lighting along the bridge it was very difficult to see the bikes whizzing down the slope of the bridge. In most cases the biker had to slow down and yell at us to move so that we could avoid being in a collision. At this point it seems that it is necessary to introduce a bike lane on the Pulaski Bridge to compliment the many bike lanes that have already been implemented throughout Greenpoint. Since biking seems to be a popular mode of transport being used to get in and out of Greenpoint, a bike path would invite more people to come in from the north side, giving bikers their own pathway to access the neighborhood.
What do people think?
This Yelp post shows an insight into what someone from outside of the city uses the bridge for other than convenient transportation between Brooklyn and Queens. The bridge serves as more than just a physical connection between the two boroughs, but also offers a unique perspective on Manhattan that you can’t have when you are actually in the city. When you sit on the bridge and look back at the skyline of Manhattan you can really feel the immensity of the city. You can actually see how enormous the buildings are and how they all fit together to form this amazing place. When you’re walking around in Manhattan it is more difficult appreciate how big of a place it actually is because you are limited by your vision to a radius of only a few blocks at most times, only able to see what is immediately around you because the skyscrapers prevent you from seeing what lies further ahead.
The Feeling of Immensity
The feeling of immensity releases us from the world around us and puts in a place where we are free to daydream and think for ourselves. When talking about how this feeling influences our thoughts and imagination, Bachelard says, “when the dreamer really experiences the word immense, he sees himself liberated from his cares and thoughts, even from his dreams. He is no longer shut up in his weight, the prisoner of his own being” (Bachelard 195). When I sat on the Pulaski Bridge at night and looked out at the illuminated skyline of the city I felt removed from where I physically was and felt myself lost in the overwhelming greatness of the city I’ve been living in for all my life. For the most part I stay in the midst of the bustling island of Manhattan, but when I step back and look at the world I live in from Brooklyn I realize there is so much more to explore than just area I call home. Since I’ve been living downtown at NYU I pretty much haven’t left the Greenwich Village area other than on rare occasions, but truly immersing myself in the neighborhood of Greenpoint made me realize that there is so much left in this amazing city that I have yet to discover, each new part offering something totally different than the last.
Bachelard, G. (1994). The Poetics of Space. Boston: Beacon.
Jacobs, J. (1961, 2011). The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Random House.
Andre N., (2013). Yelp.
“New York City Bridge Traffic Volumes 2008” (PDF). New York City Department of Transportation. March 2010. p. 97.
“Bridge Linking Greenpoint Section of Brooklyn and Long Island City Is Opened”. The New York Times. September 11, 1954.