Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Homeless turn iconic Manhattan Bridge into a shantytown

It used to be one of New York’s biggest tourist attractions, an impressive 1,470 ft bridge which dominated the city skyline and divided Manhattan and Brooklyn. USED to be, that is...because the iconic Manhattan Bridge has suddenly become a virtual shantytown.

Designed by Louis Moisseiff, the famous bridge first opened to traffic in 1909 and was recognised as being one of the finest pieces of architecture in the Big Apple. People from the trendy and gentrified neighbourhood on the Brooklyn side of the structure affectionately call their home “DUMBO” - an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.

But the once sought after area has been taken over by hoards of homeless people who have moved in under the famous bridge, packing into elaborate plywood shacks that are truly “must see to believe.”

Living in row upon row of coffin-sized living quarters, the unruly inhabitants could send housing prices plummeting. 

And they show no sign of wanting to leave.

To reach his makeshift studio apartment, one of the bridge people — an immaculately-dressed Chinese man  — has to scale a fence to a crafitly-concealed nook just above the bike lane.

He then unlocks a red bike lock with a key, slides a plank of wood back like a door and crawls in.

Yards away, another vagrant clambers into his own make-shift home, carrying with him a milk jug that is presumably what passes for his lavatory.

Not everyone is unsympathetic to the plight of the bridge dwellers. “It’s very sad,” says Brooklyn resident Imelda Lucas. “The shortage of affordable housing is so acute in in New York that people are being forced to live under one of our great landmarks.”

The 10-by-1¹/2-foot shacks may be rather cramped, but the rent-free homes are surely a better bet than actually paying for a student apartment in the sought-after area. That could set you back as much as $6,000.

As one local says: “We call the area DUMBO. But I feel like a Dumbo for moving here in the first place!“