Matthew and I have a Father’s Day tradition of a father and son outing with some sort of exploring element to it. We call it our Father’s day Adventure. I blogged about it in 2014 and I’m shocked that I didn’t blog about our 2015 Father’s day last year. I’m not even sure what we did last year. That’s why these blogs are so important. If you have a memory as dysfunctional as mine, you would forget your whole life without it.
This year (last Sunday was Father’s Day) we were limited in time because we had to be at my mother-in-law’s house by three PM, and we did have Church in the morning. So we decided to go explore an old fort on Staten Island that has now been converted to a National Park, Ft.Wadsworth. It was only a twenty minute drive away, but, though I’ve lived on Staten Island for twenty-five years, I had never been there. As you can read, Ft Wadsworth was part of the New York City harbor defense built in the 19th century to stop any naval breech through the Verrazanno Narrows, a constraining neck point at the mouth of the harbor. Dozens of cannon balls would have greeted any vessel illegally entering the harbor. A tour was not available when we were there, but to my knowledge there was never any occasion to fire against enemy ships.
I was stunned by the breath-taking view. The fort consists of two layers of a cliff. For simplicity the upper part consists of what I’ll call the Ft. Tompkins Battery and the lower part I’ll refer to as the Ft. Weed Battery. To the right is the Narrows and to the left is a panoramic view of the harbor, with the New York Skyline in the distance.
Here is a picture pf the two of us sitting on the overlook wall with the harbor and skyline behind us.
Here’s an unobstructed view of the harbor.
Here are some pictures of the Fort. Here’s the lower section called Ft. Weed.
And here are some pictures of the upper Fort, which I have to say looks more dilapidated.
And here is a picture of the two of us with the Narrows behind us.
As you can see, over the Narrows is now the wonderful Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. You can sort of see how the harbor pinches together between Brooklyn on the far side and Staten Island on the near side. The Narrows were named after the Italian explorer, Giovanni da Verrazzano, who was the first European to enter the unexplored harbor in 1524. Since the closest point between Brooklyn and Staten Island is the Narrows, it was quite logical to construct a span across there to bridge the two regions. The span is colloquially just referred to as the Verrazano Bridge, and as you can see there was a misspelling between the name of the explorer and the name of the bridge. And for some reason, the City Government refuses to correct it, even upon petition.
Nonetheless the Verrazano Bridge is a magnificent engineering achievement, and, if I may say, an artistic achievement. Perhaps I biased since I’ve lived near it all my life, but I’ve never seen a more beautiful bridge anywhere. In its day (completed in 1964) it was the largest suspension span in the world. It has been surpassed since. It’s also a double decker, six lanes on top and six lanes below. California’s Golden Gate Bridge gets all the accolades in the culture for its beauty, but frankly the Verrazano is way more beautiful. Here’s a comparative graphic:
I prefer the blue color which is harmonious to the sky and water over the Golden Gate’s rust, but what’s not a matter of preference is the arch between the towers. The Golden Gate has a truss tower, which is definitely artistically inferior to the Verrazano’s Romanesque arch. In addition, with the cables going through the tower in the Verrazano as opposed to going over the tower for the Golden Gate, the cable lines are more in harmony with the structural curves for the Verrazano. I have no qualms saying the Verrazano is superior.
I also have to say the Verrazano Bridge has a special place in my heart. It was opened four months before my parents immigrated to the United States, and the first sight was the bridge as the ship entered the harbor. It was also the first landmark they were taken to see since a car ride across it was something relatives could easily show. Some more pictures:
Finally, here’s Matthew giving his best military salute wearing his park ranger badge.