It isn't exactly a pretty bridge, but it is very, very endearing. It was built in 1923 and has been decaying rapidly for as long as I've been here. The concrete is crumbling. Rust creeps out through the pale blue paint at every corner, twist and oversized rivet. From time to time, it drops big chunks of itself into the river below. It can be frightening to drive over, as you feel the surface shifting under the weight of your car, physically painful to bicycle over its potholes and paving oddities, and downright dangerous for pedestrians at rush hour because ramps to the city's major highway crisscross it on the western end.
K. likes to tell people that we met on the South Street Bridge. This is a lie.
We met in a bar, where I chatted her up while playing pool with my roommate Stephen. But the very next morning, as she was biking all the way from South Philly to West Philly and I was making my even longer walk from Southeast Philly to West Philly, we happened to see each other crossing the South Street Bridge. To be fair, she saw me. I was oblivious, lost in the music in my headphones, unable to hear her screaming at me from the other side of the bridge. Finally I looked up and saw her waving at me and happily gave her a wave back as cars and trucks whizzed by in the lanes between us.
That was the only time we accidentally ran into each other on the bridge, despite eagerly looking from that day forth, so coming as it did on the morning after we met seemed a little like fate, or something, wanted to make sure we'd remember each other. This is what K. means when she says we met on the South Street Bridge. Because if we hadn't run into each other on the bridge that morning, who knows how things might have turned out?
And now they're tearing it down. I'm going to miss the view of the skyline from that bridge during the years it will take to build a new one. Maybe I'll try to grab a piece of the wreckage some night after work. That would be nice.
(Flickr user Serlingrod took a great series of photos of the various posters and paste-ups that local artists have decoracted it with over the years. It's well worth checking out: http://www.flickr.com/photos/serlingrod/2327659837/in/photostream)