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Brooklyn Bridge: Hellboy 2’s Version vs. the Weird Truth
Posted Jul 14,2008

In Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, an apocalyptic good-versus-evil battle toggles between antiquity and modernity, myth and reality, New York and New Jersey. So what else is new?

For starters, the “Troll Market,” a bazaar of misshapen, magical peddlers hidden beneath the Brooklyn Bridge’s east tower. That’s where a particularly important scene takes place in the movie—and where Pop Omnivore’s geographic and historical interest was piqued.

Of course, there are no trolls under the iconic span, which was built 125 years ago by John Augustus Roebling and his son Washington and, at 6,000 feet, is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. If there were such a marketplace, its inhabitants would surely be grumpy: 150,000 people traverse the East River each day via the Brooklyn-to-Manhattan bridge.

But it turns out that the span does have its share of surprises. Ted Timbers, spokesman for the New York City Department of Transportation, told us about a curious find a couple of years ago. During a routine structural inspection, some NYCDOT workers came across a secret chamber that looked a lot like a Cold War bunker. Inside was an honest-to-goodness survival cache: water drums, boxes of medical supplies (including tourniquet bandages and IV drips), a pile of blankets marked “For Use Only After Enemy Attack,” and some 350,000 high-calorie crackers in sealed tins. Most of the items were dated either 1957 or 1962.

Brooklyn Borough Historian Ron Schweiger has his own opinion. To him, the most unusual things on the bridge are the cathedral-like anchorages at either end. They’re mostly closed off, but in 1983, when the bridge was celebrating its 100th anniversary, he led tours through the eight, 50-foot-tall rooms on the Brooklyn side.

“Gorgeous, cavernous, unbelievable,” he says. “For years it was just storage space. But it also used to be a restaurant, and an art gallery. There are art shows there every year now. It’s a hidden part of the bridge, past and present. A real marvel.”

Further proof the bridge doesn’t need trolls to make it special? P.T. Barnum supposedly proved the span’s safety by parading 21 elephants across it in 1884.

And, of course, there’s the sought-after factor. No one’s quite sure where the expression “selling the Brooklyn Bridge” comes from, but the tribute to gullibility didn’t bubble up from the collective unconscious. According to The New York Times circa 1928, two different confidence men, William McCloundy and George C. Parker, each did hard time after completing their respective “sales.”

-Jeremy Berlin

Posted by Jeremy Berlin | Comments (1)
Filed Under: Film

Comments

Dan
Jul 14, 2008 5PM #

Some pictures sure would have been nice. :)

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