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Happy b’day Manhattan Bridge, don’t look a day over 99

Often overlooked but rarely underappreciated, transit fans unofficially celebrated the centennial birth of the Manhattan Bridge on December 31, 2009.

The 1470-foot suspension bridge, which connects DUMBO to Chinatown and holds the B, D, N, Q trains, was designed by Leon Solomon Moisseiff and inspired by Paris’ Porte St. Dennis.

On New Year’s Eve morning, a small group of bridge revelers withstood fierce cross winds whipping over the East River to meet in the middle of the Manhattan Bridge and walk back to Brooklyn Bridge Park to eat a birthday cake and listen to a song written and performed by Brooklyn-based musician Beau Jennings just for the occasion.

The party, organized by Lonely Planet’s US Travel Editor and 76-Second Travel Show producer Robert Reid, was filmed for his weekly show and will air on Lonely Planet’s Web site beginning this week.

“Taking a second look at this bridge is what travel is about,” said Reid, a Brooklyn resident for seven years. “It’s neighbor is more famous and perhaps more impressive, but the Manhattan is gorgeous. It anchors the East River scene and has the grandest entrance of any New York bridge. Plus Lou Reed put it on the back of his Perfect Night: Live in London album.”

Reid noted that while the New York City Bridge Commission already held its centennial celebration in early October, the real opening of the bridge was on December 31, 1909 and should be commemorated as such.

“What if your friends decided to hold your birthday two months in advance because that worked better for them?” said Reid. “We need to give the Manhattan Bridge the respect and birthday party it deserves.”

The episode featuring the Manhattan Bridge birthday party will be broadcast on Lonely Planet’s 76-Second Travel Show at www.lonelyplanet.com.

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