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#3 :: Nut – Benjamin Franklin Bridge

February 8, 2004

there decease ‘popup’, medications ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>For five of the more intense, confused, striving years of my life, I lived in Philadelphia, about a block and a half from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Built in 1926, it carried eight lanes of traffic across the Delaware River to Camden. It wasn’t particularly graceful or pretty until the city’s bicentennial year – something like 1989, when they wired it with soft uplit floodlights that strobed whenever a train ran across it. I loved walking beneath it and hearing the traffic flap-flapping over the joints. I taught myself how to ride a motorcycle in the dead, cobbled block beneath it, riding up and down, popping the clutch, dropping the bike on its side and so on. The bridge was always undergoing renovations – either having its peculiar cornflower blue paint job sandblasted and restored, or having parts tightened or replaced. These nuts were all over the place, designed for rods about an inch in diameter, and covered with rich, thick rust and chipped blue enamel. I used to ride my heavy old Schwinn cruiser up onto the pedestrian path over the bridge to take pictures – one day I was up there when two Jeeps – one towing the other, came tearassing down off the shoulder of the bridge. They failed to slow for the turn at the end, tipped up on their wheels and went down – SLAM – on their sides, grinding across the pavement for about 100 feet.

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