View Full Version : The Genins Bridge ?

August 21st, 2006, 01:11 PM
While walking me on Internet, I board discovered this bridge which I do not know and I board nothing found above.

The Genins Bridge


this bridge existed ?

August 21st, 2006, 02:49 PM
Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/picamer/paBridge.html) has a black & white imge of the bridge which states:
Genin's new and novel [proposed] bridge extending across Broadway, New York. Wood engraving in Gleason's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion, Dec. 25, 1852.
Reproduction number: LC-USZ61-348http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/cph/3a00000/3a02000/3a02100/3a02140r.jpg

Found this \/ HERE (http://www.sff.net/people/John-Sullivan/j2ksite/entries/02-0505.htm) ...

Work In Progress - Part 1

I'm going to do something I've never done here before, and probably shouldn't. A story idea, or at least a fragment thereof, hit me today, and I'm going to try to track it down and develop it in public, just to see what I can come up with and put the process of refining and shaping a story (at least the way I do it, at least this time) out on the table. And then when I'm famous this can be chapter 2 of my book on how to write, you know the one that tells how I get all those wonderful ideas.

This all got started when I was reading Luc Sante's Low Life (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0679738762/qid=1020645705/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/102-2833625-2439368), an exploration of the seamier side of early New York City. I was quite deliberately reading it for ideas and background details of the old city's dark underbelly, and it has that in abundance. But I also found, very early in the book, something quite different. Sante's first chapter starts by describing the layout of Manhattan and how it quickly evolved from a wild, forested island with a Dutch village at the tip to a kind of manmade artifact, like the world's first arcology.

He's talking about Broadway, which has always been the main artery of the city, and maybe the only street that actually existed (as an old Indian trail) before the city itself was there. By the civil war, it was incredibly choked with traffic. Sante notes that "crossing between the 'shilling' (east) and 'dollar' (west) sides was so hazardous that in 1867 a hatter who had a shop on the corner of Fulton Street succeeded in persuading the Common Council to allocate funds for a pedestrian footbridge. Made of cast iron and known as Loew Bridge, it was pulled down less than a year later after legal challenges by rival hatters nearby."

Okay, that stopped me right there. All the gangs and rackets and prostitutes and political bosses I'd been looking for could wait. I had discovered some bizarre war of the hatters over a bridge. Hatters and bridges seemed an odd juxtaposition. Why was New York's millinery industry up in arms over a pedestrian footbridge? Note that the bridge also has a built-in story arc. It's built, it's used, it's torn down. Not only is it lost to the mists of history, but it lived a short and turbulent life, being fought over all the time. By hatters.

That's about all Sante has to say about Loew's Bridge, so I went looking. The most notable event in the bridge's short life appears to be its appearance in the work of one Mary E. Tucker, an African-American woman poet of the time (which is pretty remarkable in itself). Tucker wrote a poem called "Loew's Bridge: A Broadway Idyl (http://digilib.nypl.org/dynaweb/digs/wwm9726/)," (1867) in which she's standing on the bridge, watching the torrent of Broadway flow by beneath her, and reflecting on the people she sees. When the poem was published, Tucker was prevailed upon to write some footnotes explaining local details for readers outside New York, and the first discusses the bridge itself, saying:

"Loew's, or as it is commonly called, Fulton Street Bridge, was completed March, 1866, The building being supervised by the Hon. Charles E. Loew, whose name has been bestowed upon it by an Act of the Common Council of New York. It is a large ærial structure, at the intersection of Broadway way and Fulton Street, where the thoroughfare is continually thronged with vehicles of all kinds, rendering it almost impossible for pedestrians to pass."

And HERE (http://www.sff.net/people/John-Sullivan/j2ksite/entries/02-0511.htm) ...

Work In Progress - Part 4

Hatters do not build bridges as a matter of course, generally finding it more convenient to leave this necessity to the structural engineering and building trades. It's haunted me for days why Genin would be so obsessed with his bridge over Broadway.

Sure it makes it easier for people on the far side of the street to get to his shop. But really, is that such a big deal? Enough to keep him going for a dozen years? I mean it's a two-way bridge. Presumably both Genin and Knox must have been in agreement on the expectation that the bridge would carry more customers from Knox's side of the street to Genin's than vice versa.

One small detail that had bothered me came from the original paragraph in Sante where he described the west side of Broadway as the dollar side and the east as the shilling side. According to a piece by a New York realtor, this came about because the west side gets more sun, and so was generally more desirable. Apparently the quality of shops gradually came to reflect this. But still, there has to be an esoteric reason. Selling hats isn't enough.

A couple odd side threads play in here. My subconscious started messing with me at one point. I was looking at a picture of the bridge and suddenly I saw it as a kind of semicircle, an arch projecting from the ground (well duh - I'm not done). Then I flashed on the idea of its mirror image, buried under the street, making it a full circle. This actually tied into something I'd passed over before. One of the documents I'd found referring to Genin's 1854 stunt in which he hired men to clean up Broadway uses the interesting phrasing, "Genin hired sweepers to work nights excavating the paving stones of Broadway from the Battery to Union Square." Presumably what "excavating" means is clearing them of horse droppings and various other junk. But what if it doesn't? What if they were fixing the 19th century equivalents of potholes?
Or, a step farther on, what if he had them out there digging up Broadway in the dead of night specifically to bury something beneath the street, with the rest of the cleanup operation and the fingerpointing at the city's negligent street inspectors as distraction?

Hmm, that's interesting. Broadway is the main artery of the city. And if the bridge is in two parts, it becomes a kind of collar or valve through which all that traffic passes every day. It's not unlikely that, had the bridge remained in place, pretty much every citizen of New York would have passed under/through it at least once in their lifetime.

And then I came all the way back to Mary Tucker's poem. Let's read the first verse together, shall we?

For hours I stood upon the bridge,
Which looms like a volcanic ridge,
Above a scathing fire below.
A flaming crater of burning hearts
And, as souls passed beneath my feet,
As weary souls passed to and fro
A knowledge came, so sad, yet sweet,
Each inner life I seemed to know.
Oh God, Mary E. Tucker Lambert or whoever you are, I love you. That's the key to it all right there. That's not some poetic conceit. She's telling us literal truth. All those people moving through that circle of metal. Letting that metal bridge pass through their bio-electrical/spiritual energy fields. Remember what happens when you move a conductor through a magnetic field? You generate current.

The bridge is iron, but not just simple iron. Genin has all that alchemical metals knowledge, and he designed the bridge. Not, I think, just its form, but also the actual composition of the pieces. He would have had to have them specially made, using not only iron but copper. Several reasons for that.

Those Chinese secret society rituals refer to an iron and copper bridge, but there's a better reason. In alchemy, iron is the metal of Mars, while copper is associated with Venus. Thus something made out of iron and copper has both male and female characteristics. It is hermaphroditic, and you'd best believe the Penguin Dictionary has a great deal to say about hermaphrodism. It represents spiritual perfection, the reintegration of polarized opposites into a perfect whole. In various Gnostic and mystical Christian traditions, hermaphrodism was the original human condition before the fall from grace separated us. It symbolizes the ultimate goal of everything from Kabbalah to alchemy itself, enlightenment, illumination, merging with the divine, the return to grace, reintegration into our original, perfect oneness.

So Genin designs his iron bridge with hidden copper circuits running through it. And every day the people of New York, with their burning hearts and their weary souls, pass to and fro through that circle of iron and copper. And in so doing they generate a kind of current in the bridge that encodes the energy they carry. In effect, their inner lives are read, they are recorded. Their dreams and aspirations, their fears and hopes, all the things pouring into that energy field around them, are faithfully merged into the bridge, stirred into a kind of collective soul of New York.

To what goal, though? This isn't hatter magic. Hatters shape and improve people individually, like Bonsai artists. But it plays nicely into the magic Genin learned from Barnum. Barnum has a very different kind of magic, the magic of celebrity, of large-scale public attention, of Extraordinary Popular Delusions & The Madness of Crowds (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/051788433X/qid=1021178609/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/103-7259347-3304604). All those people crammed together sufficiently that there's a "grapevine" that spans the city, plus the newspapers and pamphlets, the Museum - Barnum pioneered the tools to use these things to manipulate people by the thousands for his own benefit. He works not on people individually but on "the public" as a collective organism. This would make sense to Genin. He would see it as hatter magic taken to the next level. Barnum had a vague understanding of hatter magic (remember he sold hats in the 1830s) but lacked the indoctrination of hatter culture. He used it to make himself the very wealthy master showman of the age.

Genin comes into this with more noble hatter's goals. Everything about Genin paints him as a basically decent man. Sure the magic pretty much unavoidably brings benefits to the user. Even when Genin borrowed it to boost his own power with the Jenny Lind ticket purchase, he became a famous hatter, got rich and so on - but Barnum also got his $225 (which works out to $5,113.64 in 2002 according to this handy site (http://www.cjr.org/resources/inflater.asp)).

But Genin, like someone who's just gotten his hands on the one ring, is convinced that he can use this power for good. Nowhere in the stories of his various stunts is there one that has him just reaming the public to line his own pockets the way, say Nike exploits poor kids in third-world sweatshops. Genin's always doing things for the good of the public in general, which also end up benefiting him in particular.

So he's got this power that can work at a citywide scale, and the conviction that he can use it for good, the way the hatters always have on the personal level. And that's what he's trying to do. Remember he was even nominated for Mayor after the street-cleaning stunt. Of course in the early years he seems to often underestimate the challenges. He isn't elected Mayor, and his original offer to build the bridge is rejected even though it would have cost the city nothing. Clearly there are forces working against him, and perhaps he doesn't fully comprehend them in the early 1850s, which is why things don't always go his way.

But he's got his plan. He's going to build his bridge and the public are going to pour their souls into it as they pass beneath it, and then Genin's going to stand on it, doubtless wearing some highly complicated headpiece with a lot of metal bits in it. And he's going to drink it all in, the way Mary Tucker (apparently a woman of uncommon sensitivity) did to a limited degree by accident. And he will know, he will understand. The city's power will flow to Genin and he, benevolent and skilled in shaping will take it all in. He will truly know the city's soul, and send the energy back out using Barnum's techniques. He will shape New York the same way the hatters shape individuals. And over time, following paths known only to Genin, things will get better. In effect the bridge is like the bridge of a ship - the central control nexus with lines going everywhere, from which Genin will steer the city closer to perfection.

Of course that's how Genin sees it. Knox, of course, disagrees, and which side you're on is kind of a character touchstone. Thanks to friend and former coworker Mark Sheehan who notes that a) Knox is a Scottish name and some things that could imply and b) Genin is French and the best Parisian hatters were French Huguenots who eventually bailed out of the country for England and the new world. So I've got some things about Genin's family network and how he ended up as a hatter in the first place, but also a character reading for Knox.

Knox opposes this because he doesn't trust Genin's benevolence in particular, but more because he doesn't think it wise to scale up hatter magic the way Genin is trying to do. It's a personal thing. You can understand another human being with work and wisdom. But Knox doesn't think, even with his bridge, that Genin can truly understand the entire city as if it were one being. He thinks that eventually Genin will become corrupted by power, or else that he'll just screw up with disastrous results for everyone. Genin, of course thinks that Knox is a self-righteous prig of a Scots Presbyterian who can't bear to see someone else come up with a good idea. Especially Genin, who (Genin is sure) Knox resents for his success, and his nicer shop on the nicer side of the street that doesn't have a gambling hall upstairs like Knox's does.

So yeah, there's the basic sweep of Genin's plan, and there's the core conflict between the two men, with Barnum floating in the background with an agenda of his own. Perhaps he has no intention of letting Genin surpass him by mating his power with the magic of the hatters. I'm coming to the realization that the story is going to have to span the whole 18 years or so, starting with Genin meeting Barnum and buying the ticket and proceeding to the pulling down of the bridge, the ultimate failure of Genin's plan, with stops in places like 1853-4 when the bridge plan is first devised, and the fire at Barnum's museum.

Yes, the scary part comes next - weaving all this into a story that will be at least sort of as interesting as the background material. We'll just have to see.

August 21st, 2006, 02:58 PM
Low Life - Luc Sante

In 1860s New York, the poorest drank poisonous alcohol from rubber tubes and whole families lived in the cupboard under your stairs. The reality of ‘Gangs of New York’-era Manhattan in all its bare-knuckled gruesomeness.

August 21st, 2006, 03:03 PM
Info from South Street Seaport Museum (http://www.southstseaport.org/magazine/articles/1999-03.shtm) ...

The Mad Hatter

by Wendy Shadwell


Nineteenth-century New York City provided unlimited opportunities for those sufficiently clever and determined to get ahead, Neither an extensive education nor financial backing was a prerequisite to success. In the burgeoning commercial capital that was mid-century New York, the lack of a pedigree or inherited wealth could be overcome by anyone with sufficient wits and hustle. John N. Genin (1819-1878), one of the best-known merchants in mid-nineteenth century New York, is a case in point.

Although Genin's ancestry was distinguished–his grandfather and namesake had served with French forces under General Rochambeau during the American Revolution–his beginnings were humble. As a fatherless lad of about thirteen he went to work for Orlando Fish who ran a hat store at Chatham Square. Several years later he became a clerk in the hat store of George B. Alvord on the Bowery. About 1841 he opened his own business in brief partnership with Gansevoort Van Vranken at 214 Broadway, a site Genin was to occupy throughout his long career. He was, in the words of his obituary, “active and energetic,” and he quickly built up a thriving business. As early as 1845 Genin entered his headgear at the Annual Fair of the American Institute of New York where the Manufacturing and Mechanical Department awarded him a silver medal for “the best Silk Hat,” and diplomas for “the best cloth and fancy caps” and “the second best Fur Hat.” Genin continued to submit merchandise to the annual fairs and was a consistent winner of silver medals ...

... In 1852 Genin again drew attention to himself and his emporium, located on Broadway at Fulton Street, this time by offering to build an iron footbridge across Broadway at his own expense, estimated at $5,000. This proposal was publicized in Gleason's Pictorial on December 25, 1852, which reported that Genin had applied to the Common Council for permission to erect the structure at “the most dangerous crossing in the City.” The editors were decidedly in favor of this “ornament” for Broadway and expressed their approbation: “The enterprise of the merchant princes of New York is proverbial but this of Mr. Genin bids fair to supercede [sic] all others.” Although this bridge was never built–and crossing Broadway remained hazardous until the Loew Bridge was erected at this location in 1867–Genin got plenty of renown for making the offer.

August 21st, 2006, 03:13 PM
Info (the accuraccy somewhat questionable) regarding that block of Broadway at Fulton from http://home.nyc.rr.com/jkn/nysonglines/broadway.htm (http://home.nyc.rr.com/jkn/nysonglines/broadway.htm) ...

222 (block): From approximately this corner to the northwest corner of Pearl and Maiden Lane was the farm of Anthony ''the Turk'' Jansen, whose wife, Grietse Reyniers, was New Amsterdam's first prostitute, arriving here in 1633.

Later, this corner was the site of the Spring Garden, New York's first pleasure garden, which opened ealy in the 18th Century and lasted until 1768.

By 1834, this was the site of Scudder's Museum, which featured elaborate dioramas, a mummy, scalps, John Hancock's signature, live boa constrictor feedings and a wax statue of Daddy Lambert, known as the fattest New Yorker ever.

In 1841, Scudder's became P.T. Barnum's enormously popular American Museum (http://www.lostmuseum.cuny.edu/), where midget Tom Thumb (http://www.missioncreep.com/mundie/gallery/little/little1.htm) and Siamese twins Chang and Eng (http://phreeque.tripod.com/chang_eng.html) performed. The famous sign marked ''This Way to the Egress'' tricked visitors into exiting. When the museum burned down on July 13, 1865, a Bengal tiger escaped and had to be killed on Broadway by a firefighter.

From 1866-96 here was the New York Herald Building, home of the racist, anti-Semitic newspaper founded by James Gordon Bennett. It introduced such features as the gossip column and Wall Street coverage, and was the paper that sent Henry Stanley to look for the missing Dr. David Livingstone.

From 1898-1958 the St. Paul Building was here, which one architecture critic called ''perhaps the least attractive design of all New York's skyscrapers.''

The current building served as the offices of Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen in the movie Wall Street.

216: Chemical Bank, a subsidiary of the New York Chemical Manufacturing Co., opened here in 1824.

Corner: Knox the Hatter, located here, got a court order to remove the bridge over Broadway at this intersection, fearing that he was losing business to rival Philip Genin on the opposite corner. Abraham Lincoln got a silk hat here on February 27, 1860.

August 21st, 2006, 03:15 PM
:):)Thank You Lofter1

August 21st, 2006, 03:36 PM
Thanks to you ;) I learned something new about NYC -- yet again ...

August 21st, 2006, 04:24 PM
thank you for the bond “The Lost Museum”. This site is sublime, one learns there full with thing and it is a true success.


August 21st, 2006, 04:28 PM
The Loew's Bridge :

August 21st, 2006, 06:34 PM
The Loew's ^^ Bridge seems to be the better of the two ideas ...

The Loew's straddles the entire intersection, rather than crowding up one end of the block. And thus it doesn't block the entire view of St. Paul's cemetery along Broadway as Genin's proposal seems to do \/


August 21st, 2006, 07:42 PM
More on the Loew's Bridge ...

The frontispiece from Loew's Bridge, A Broadway Idyl (1867),
by Mary Eliza Tucker Lambert (http://www.lehigh.edu/~dek7/SSAWW/writLambertBio.htm):

A policeman grabs the reins of a rearing horse
which has startled nearby pedestrians.
A basket has been dropped to the ground,
and the fruit or vegetables it held spilled.
Passers-by look down on the scene from
the bridge above.

Engraving (http://www.sff.net/people/John-Sullivan/j2ksite/entries/02-0511.htm) of Mary Eliza Tucker Lambert,
author of Loew's Bridge, A Broadway Idyl

The text in it's entirety: Loew's Bridge, A Broadway Idyl (http://www.hti.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=amverse;idno=BAD1936.0001.001;rgn=div1;view= text;cc=amverse;node=BAD1936.0001.001%3A4)

Comments (http://poetry.emory.edu/epoet-Author.xml?search=Lambert%2C+Mary+Eliza+%5BPerine% 5D+Tucker&cursor=1,20) from Mary Eliza Tucker Lambert ...

For hours I stood upon The Bridge, Loew's, or as it is commonly called, Fulton Street Bridge, was completed March, 1866, the building being supervised by the Hon. Charles E. Loew, whose name has been bestowed upon it by an Act of the Common Council of New York. It is a large ærial structure, at the intersection of Broadway and Fulton Street, where the thoroughfare is continually thronged with vehicles of all kinds, rendering it almost impossible for pedestrians to pass.

And from A Historical Tour of the Greatest Street in the World ... Broadway (http://www.bklyn-genealogy-info.com/Manhattan/Broadway/Wall.Commons.html)
A visitor of 1845 speaks of the noise and confusion on Broadway at that time. The truck drivers purposely went out of their way to enjoy the sights along the great thoroughfare and to show to pedestrians and their fellowdrivers and those on the buses their capabilities in the way of what Mrs. Gamp would have called "langwidge," when their progress was blocked by other carts. So dangerous was the passage at Fulton Street, although there were in those days no surface cars to increase the difficulties of getting across, that an iron bridge called the Loew bridge, was erected at this point across Broadway. It was completed in May, 1867; but pedestrians preferred the dangers of the street to the task of climbing the stairs - this was before the days of the elevated railroads - and so the bridge was removed in 1868. The widening of other streets convenient to the water front, and the establishment of the "Broadway Squad" of police, six footers, every one of them, and the present traffic squad have lessened the dangers to a minimum; though it is still difficult for him who is not born a New Yorker, or who has not been caught early and learned the ins and outs of metropolitan life, to cross Broadway between the Bowling Green and Manhattan Street.

A VIEW (http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchdetail.cfm?trg=1&strucID=693464&imageID=805646&word=Broadway%20%28New%20York%2C%20N%2EY%2E%29%20% 2D%2D%201800%2D1899&s=3&notword=&d=&c=&f=2&lWord=&lField=&sScope=&sLevel=&sLabel=&total=20&num=0&imgs=12&pNum=&pos=5) looking south on Broadway from Vesey St., after the Loew's Bridge has been taken down:
Another BRIDGE (http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchdetail.cfm?trg=1&strucID=714769&imageID=800524&word=Broadway%20%28New%20York%2C%20N%2EY%2E%29%20% 2D%2D%201800%2D1899&s=3&notword=&d=&c=&f=2&lWord=&lField=&sScope=&sLevel=&sLabel=&total=20&num=12&imgs=12&pNum=&pos=20), farther north where Broadway crossed Canal:

http://images.nypl.org/?id=800524&t=wAnd more on Loew's Bridge from PUTNAM'S (http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/moa/pageviewer?frames=1&cite=&coll=&view=100&root=%2Fmoa%2Fputn%2Fputn0011%2F&tif=00415.TIF&pagenum=390) Magazine, March 1868 \/