Brooklyn Bridge into glades

The Brooklyn Bridge celebrates its 125th birthday this month, … today actually.

Sound familiar?

Our south Florida equivalent — The Tamiami Trail — just turned 80.

And that makes Brooklyn Bridge as old as drainage of the Everglades. What we call Everglades drainage actually started in the Kissimmee Basin, by Hamilton Disston, in the 1880s.

Bridges are transformative at the moment of their inception, but once built and one generation morphs into the next, its easy to lose touch with the metamorphic new world that they ushered in, … and the old world that was left behind.

I rank Brooklyn Bridge right up there with Hoover Dam — which incidently is about the same age as our Tamiami Trail — in terms of an architectural statement and historical symbol of our nation.

More than that, you simply cannot understand New York City unless you pause with a moments thought (that can last an eternity) underneath its arches, just the same that you cannot fully understand the American Southwest until you stand ontop the cement monolith of Hoover Dam.

Nor can you understand the roots of modern day south Florida without a drive along — with ample stops — the asphalt of elevated limerock ribbon between Points A and B (Tampa and Miami) called the Tamiami Trail, especially the 110 miles from Naples to Miami.
Before the Trail, and the extension road that connected Chokoloskee in 1953, most of the points inbetween Tampa and Miami, especially as you headed into the Glades, were only assessible by boat. The Trail changed that. In the same way, the Brooklyn Bridge transformed rural Brooklyn into another part of the metrolopis.

So yes, the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge coincides with the waning days of pre-drainage Everglades: its waters still flowed unfettered from Kissimmee headwaters down into the Lake, and then south, through the Everglades and into Florida Bay and the Ten Thousand Islands.
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But it was completion of the Tamiami Trail in 1928 that ushered in Florida’s modern era of Everglades drainage. Many of the works of the South and Central Florida Project, kicked off in the 1950s and wrapped up 25 years later in 1975 (back when the Shula was King and Dolphins had recently wrapped up their Perfect Season) are tied into the infrastructure of the Trail.

And have you ever seen the S12s?

They are Hoover-esque in terms of their post-modern architectural decor … but the sun has to be shining exactly right, at a 45 degree angle from the west.

Had south Floridian promoters have named the Brooklyn Bridge, it would have been something like Brook-hatten, reflecting a compounded word of its connected endpoints.

Interestingly, I read that it wasn’t until 1915 that the City officially adopted the official name of Brooklyn Bridge. Before that it was officially known as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge.
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By that time, plans for the great Tamiami Trial was already being hatched. But it wouldn’t be until a decade later that the Trail was officially completed in 1928.
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Suffice it to say there is a lot of history behind the Trail, or shall we say water under the Bridge.

Happy Birthday Brooklyn Bridge.

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