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Happy 100th, Manny B!

The Brooklyn Paper
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Fans of the Manhattan Bridge — and they are legion, make no mistake — will finally get a chance to celebrate as the Brooklyn Bridge’s much-maligned younger brother celebrates its 100th birthday this weekend.

There’ll be tours, a parade, lectures and fireworks on Sunday — a party fit for a bridge that has never gotten its due, despite being superior to the Brooklyn Bridge in almost every important way:

• The Manny B carries more people every day than any bridge in the city — even more than the George Washington — thanks to its subway lines. About 400,000 people cross the span every day.

• It was the first true suspension bridge because it didn’t rely on cross-bracing like the Brooklyn Bridge or trusses like the Williamsburg Bridge. The result is a graceful, clean look beloved by real New Yorkers.

• And best of all, it taught generations of engineers what not to do when building a bridge.

“Putting the rail lines on the outside rather than the middle put enormous stress on the bridge,” said Sam Schwartz, the Department of Transporta­tion’s chief engineer in the late 1980s. “People don’t know this, but that bridge almost collapsed in 1986.”

Schwartz, a.k.a. Gridlock Sam, will be participating in many of the activities, which begin on Sunday and go on all week (see our calendar on page 8 for listings).

“I must admit,” Schwartz said, “I haven’t found too many fans of its design.” (He’s not looking hard enough.) “My favorite thing to do on the bridge is stand in the middle, fix my eyes on a spot about 1,000 feet away, wait for the trains to pass, and watch the horizon go up and down. If there are four trains simultaneously, the whole bridge will rise and fall eight feet.”

Gersh Kuntzman is the Editor of The Brooklyn Paper. E-mail Gersh at gkuntzman@cnglocal.com
Updated 5:14 pm, July 9, 2018
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