I’m going to climb to the top of the Queensboro Bridge

Whenever I cross the Queensboro Bridge, I always get this urge to get off my bike and climb to the top. It looks so easy. Batman did it in The Dark Knight Rises. He’s just standing on top, staring at the city, planning out that whole part where he makes that line of gasoline that goes all the way from the base of the East River to the top, where it’s shaped like a flaming bat. I want to do it too, minus the flaming bat. It doesn’t even look that tall. Like, if I could just get past my fear of heights, if I could just focus on one step at a time, like a ladder, or not one step at a time, but one rung at a time, I’m sure I could be standing on the top in no time.

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A couple of years ago there were like three guys that climbed to the top of the New York Times building. The whole thing is wrapped in these bars, something to do with green energy, I’m not really sure. But it’s also shaped exactly like a ladder. And so first, this guy who’s famous for climbing buildings, he did it. And then some other guy did it, and then another guy, until they had to remove the bars from the bottom floors.

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So there’s definitely that urge. Sometimes the urge is barely there. Sometimes it’s all I can do to block it out of my head. When it’s at it’s strongest, I’ll look up from right underneath and picture myself doing it, where I’d start, at what pace I’d have to climb. I look at gaps in between some of the larger expanses of cable and steel and imagine how I’d realistically be able to make it across.

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I’m confident that I could make it to the top, no problem. But will I ever get the chance? New York’s a pretty tightly guarded city. There are cameras everywhere. I don’t doubt for a second that if anything ever goes even the slightest bit off on one of the bridges or tunnels, the police must know about it almost instantly. One time I was riding my bike across and there were these weird graffiti tags spaced about every ten feet apart. I got to the middle of the bridge and there were like twenty cops surrounding this guy with cans of spray paint. If that guy couldn’t get away with his stunt, I doubt I’d be able to get away with mine.

Or maybe I’d be able to at least get started. I’d get like a quarter of the way up before someone notices what I’m up to. I’d have to travel light, so as not to give an impression that I’m carrying any sort of bomb or weapon. The crazier part of my imagination is cooking up some scenario where the police commissioner is staring at a TV screen somewhere, barking orders into a walkie-talkie, “Take him down! Now!” and some lieutenant would be like, “But commish, he doesn’t look like he’s up to no good … he’s just climbing.” But nobody wants to take that type of risk, not post-post-9/11, and so maybe they’d off me, cover up the operation, I’d die in obscurity, not ever having made it to the top.

Getting all the way up would be easy. And once I got up there, I’d bask in the view. I’d do a Batman pose and pretend like I’m reenacting the moment right before he took back the city from Bane. And then I’d probably just wait, frozen. Because while going up seems easy, climbing back down, that’s got to be tough. Making sure you have a controlled descent. I don’t know why, I imagine climbing up and I’m fine, but I imagine coming back down, and that kind of gets my palms all sweaty.

I’ll definitely do it someday. Maybe I’ll definitely do it someday. Probably. I always think, what’s stopping me? Fear? Of what? Getting in trouble? What are they going to do, lock me up? For how long? I’ll get out eventually, and I’ll never have to think about what it would be like to climb up, because I’d have already done it. And so I won’t have that nagging sensation in the back of my brain, every time I ride my bike to work, come on Rob, just do it, it looks so easy, you’re going to be an old man someday and you won’t be able to then even if you wanted to. You can totally make it up, come on, don’t be a weenie, just do it.

 

2 thoughts on “I’m going to climb to the top of the Queensboro Bridge

  1. andrew H

    this is true…

    On a late summer night in 1995, i was crossing back from Queens to Manhattan on the walkway of the Queensboro bridge at about 4:30 in the morning and took a detour to climb to the top. There were three of us, which included my 2 best friends to this day. One of our trio actually had a job that summer. He was a cab driver. Instead of allowing him to work that night, we thought it a better idea that he pick us up and drive us around the city for free. The three of us that summer had become fast friends and on nights like this we felt unstoppable and alive. It was not as if we were truly up to no good or anything; we were just young, maladjusted, and determined to do everything all at once. We tried to get into places without ID on Bleeker Street and instead ate falafel on McDougal , we played video games in Times Square (only 25c a game). We checked out all the fish at Fulton Street. We made progress in our ongoing discussion as to life’s meaning. And between it all we just kept driving.

    Reluctantly, the night had to end, and the taxi had must be returned — to Queens — and we were out of money. So we returned the car and walked home across the bridge to Manhattan. In passing the second giant brown painted steel tower (this was the south roadway mind you the north roadway was for cars in the 1990s) we noticed: the tower hatch door had been left open. Inside the smelly gloom we could make out an iron ladder going up.

    I remember saying “This. This is what we have been talking about all night! This is what we were talking about all summer! This is where it lead us! This is it. This is perfect. It all hinges on moments like this. Are we full of shit ? Are we existentialist mice or free men? How do you want to remember this twenty years from now ?.” and finally “Fuck you, I’m climbing ! ”

    Anyway we climbed. It took a while. There was bird shit. There were dead birds. It was creepy and claustrophobic. It smelled. We used lighters to see. It went up 10 levels. At the top was an identical hatch to the one at the bottom. We opened it. There was a sheer drop to the upper roadway. About 14 inches out was steel footing, so in order to climb out we had to commit to the effort. This part was the scariest. But we did this too and finally sat with our legs dangling off the girders for the next hour smoking cigarettes and watching the sun rise over Astoria. These friendships have sealed forever. T and W ( and NYC ) .

    Reply
  2. Jackson

    Rob, I am watching a man walk across the top of the 59th Street bridge. He has just ascended to the top of the East tower, and now, on the descent has stopped. Is this you??

    Reply

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