Hudson Quadricentennial DSC_4665 Livingston ave bridge, originally uploaded by carljohnson.
I have never photographed anything as much as I have photographed the Livingston Avenue Bridge. It may be its proximity — I’m parked near it all the time, either waiting by the river or getting ready for a bike ride or a paddle. It may be its elegance and age — the piers are believed to go back to the Civil War, and the graceful superstructure, which swings open on a gigantic gear to allow tall ships up the Hudson River, dates back to 1901. Or it may be that it is the last structure along the river that goes back to the canal era — other than some crumbling bulkheads and rotting piers that emerge at low tide, there is little to connect us to the time when the river was a vital part of Albany life. Far from being a relic, the Livingston Avenue Bridge is still a vital link, carrying freight and passenger rail across the Hudson, and it still swings open several times a day in the season when big vessels such as the Troy-based cruise boat Captain JP pass through.
For a few years there have been rumors of a replacement, which strikes me right in the heart, thinking we could lose this landmark that has been part of the local waterfront for more than a century. And now it appears that that process is picking up a little steam, with an announcement today that the federal government has set aside $2 million for a preliminary study of a replacement. It will probably be 10 years or more before anything is done, knowing how these things go, but someday this ancient steel workhorse will be gone, and with it a major piece of Albany history.
That being said, I’m not opposed to progress, and I’ll admit that whispers that a pedestrian crossing might be included are enough to make me wish the replacement would come even sooner. Currently the only way to cross the river at Albany is the Dunn Memorial Bridge, which is an unlovely, long hike with a steep climb on either end. It starts from a park in Rensselaer but dumps you ignobly onto an ugly stretch of access road on the Albany side, blocks from the Corning Preserve. It doesn’t attract a lot of casual walkers or cyclists, and it is perpetually covered with broken glass, presumably thrown from cars going by on the bridge. So for a lovely walkway, much closer to the river, connecting the Corning Preserve to Rensselaer, yes, I’m afraid I’d sell out my beloved bridge in a minute. But I’d still miss it.