In 1959, we moved from Queens to Closter, New Jersey. To go to my father's work and to visit my grandparents, we had to cross the George Washington Bridge. What fascinated me about that is once you got off the bridge on the New York side, you had to take one of the vehicular tunnels to get to the Harlem River Drive. There were two tunnels: one at 178th Street (to go from Manhattan to the Harlem River Drive), and one going west at 179th Street to get back to the George Washington Bridge. I thought, wow, that is cool—a tunnel to a bridge, and a bridge to a tunnel. It reminded me of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, which was much longer (I think it’s still one of the longest vehicular tunnels in the world). I found that really fascinating, and the bridge always impressed me.
About the time we moved to Jersey, they started building the lower roadway. I said, wow, the engineer had enough insight to design a switch for a lower roadway, knowing that the traffic would increase. The lower roadway was originally designed for mass transit (four lanes of light rail), but that was changed to three lanes of vehicular traffic. Mind you, the center of the lower roadway is designed for air currents only (because of the lessons learned from the ill-fated Tacoma Narrows Bridge that collapsed in Washington). The air currents pass through and around the deck to keep the bridge from twisting or flexing. So I found that really fascinating, and all of it sparked my interest in bridges.
Taking the East River Drive to my father's parents on the Lower East Side of New York, we’d pass the swing bridges across the Hudson River. Then the Triborough Bridge, the Hell Gate, the Queensboro, the Williamsburg and the Brooklyn. And I was always fascinated looking at all these different bridges. They all looked different, but they served the same function. When we’d come to the Queensboro Bridge, I would look up and see the huge finials. And I said to myself, wouldn't it be cool to be up there someday? I had no idea that I'd be climbing these things!