Why Not a Restaurant at the Top of the Bridge?

The George Washington Bridge in New York City, along with the Golden Gate on the other coast, is recognized as a great engineering achievement and example of good design.

As I mentioned previously, I can set in my apartment and look at this marvel, which is indeed beautiful, but contains no glass. Originally, that was not supposed to be the case.

According to what I’ve been told, the original plan was to encase the bridge in masonry, like the Brooklyn Bridge and the others that lead into Manhattan, and put a glass-enclosed restaurant at the top of the stanchion on the New Jersey side. This would have given diners a glorious view of midtown-Manhattan and the New York harbor.

The Great Depression scuttled these plans and the structure was left unadorned and glassless.

However, glass has played on a role here. On a recent walk in Fort Lee Park, which overlooks the bridge, I was told by an elderly passerby that, indeed, there was a glass-enclosed view in a casino which had stood on the promenade just beside the stanchion. He reminisced about those days when the “swells” (reportedly Mafioso—the story in Fort Lee is that when New York ran the gangsters out they moved to Fort Lee which had originally served as a location for shooting silent movies) would bring their girlfriends to the casino and gamble while the girls drank bootleg liquor and enjoyed the view.

Alas, the casino is gone and the land is a park today. No glass-encased view from which to sip cocktails.

But the restaurant in the stanchion is still a great idea and with the terrific glass products available today, it would be safe, energy efficient and aesthetically pleasing. And I know that any number of architects would relish the prospect of doing the design for it.