When Alex, a media consultant and amateur comedian, went to look at a rental right next to the Williamsburg Bridge, his friends warned him to watch out for “bridge people”—an inside joke to tease him and also convey concern for his well-being. Now living next to the landmark, he says there is absolutely nothing to fear—and actually a lot to love about his apartment’s location. Here’s his experience.
My apartment is right outside the Williamsburg Bridge—the building is great and the Lower East Side neighborhood is awesome. You get the best of both worlds: If you go left you are on Clinton Street in the heart of the area and if you go right, you’re right by the bridge and in what I think of as the “hot zone” by Delancey near the area that leads to the bridge.
[Editor's Note: Brick Underground's series “Living Next to” features first-person accounts of what it’s like to have an iconic or unusual New York City neighbor. Have a story to share? Drop us an email. We respect all requests for anonymity.]
When I first saw the building in early September, I asked the broker who showed me it about the bridge. I was wondering about noise and traffic and hoped that being so close to Delancey wouldn’t be too hectic. That area can have tons of hustle and bustle, but I’ve come to see the bridge as more of a beauty than a bother. Turns out here wasn’t much to be concerned about.
Still, when I first told friends that my place was pretty much just outside the bridge, they would freak out and warn me to watch out for “bridge people.” It’s a term they made up based on their overactive imaginations just to tease me, I guess. But now that I’ve thoroughly explored the area, I can assure everyone there are no such thing as “bridge people.” Sure, there are people around the bridge, but they are generally just walking by, not loitering or causing any danger.
It’s true that a few years ago, during another homeless epidemic, there were people who created shelters high up inside the Manhattan Bridge. According to the New York Post, they built coffin-sized living spaces into the underside of the upper deck above the bike lanes. But I haven’t seen anything like that near my side of the Williamsburg.
The downsides of living so close to the bridge are manageable: It gets noisy and there can be traffic. I am lucky that I am not exactly at the entrance, so most of the horn blowing is down the street and therefore, a bit muffled. Sometimes at night it can feel a bit dicey, but I’m also a comedian, so talking about where I live is great for material. I like to use it to add to my schtick, like, “Wow, look at how much I have going on! I am a comedian living under a bridge!” Or, something like “I buy the best drugs from my guy under the bridge!”
And the benefits of my location far outweigh the constraints. The streets there—particularly at the end of Rivington—are so open you really have room to park. This makes it ideal for friends who drive to visit me.
Living next to something so iconic and recognizable is a great way to give people directions to where I live. Newcomers can always find it and cabbies immediately know where I am headed. I have the best of both worlds with easy access to downtown Manhattan and also a quick trip right into a great part of Brooklyn.
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