Thursday, December 23, 2021

12 Days of Christmas: Weehawken via NJ Transit

The view from Weehawken (from top) in May, July, October, December.

On Thursday, 84 years ago today (just weeks before what would be my mother's 6th birthday), commuters took advantage of the first full day of driving through the newly dedicated Lincoln Tunnel to travel between New York and New Jersey.

Above is the 2021 view from the notorious Helix, a 4,000-foot sloping loop connecting traffic from Route 495 in Weehawken to the tunnel entrance on the Jersey side.

With apologies to F. Scott Fitzgerald and his Dutch sailors, this view of the Manhattan skyline is my daily reminder that something exists in the world that for a transitory, enchanted moment makes me hold my breath.
December 1937 opening of the Lincoln Tunnel.
(NY Daily News photo)

The skyline, magically, presents itself differently every working day. Ensconced in a seat of a New Jersey Transit bus, I often press my cell phone camera against one of the back windows to take just one more photo of the view as we pass. The images, captured at the same time (albeit on different days) of the same place, never look the same.

My office in New York reopened, tentatively, earlier this year. My bosses, generously, even paid for expenses if I chose to drive. But, by May, traffic had built up to pre-pandemic levels, and I began to prefer to take the bus.

There's now about half as many passengers on commuter buses as there were in 2019. We're all wearing masks, and most are staring intently into their cell phones.

Except when we pass through Weehawken on Route 495.

Then, from the back of the bus, I notice a few heads turn toward the skyline in appreciation of a sight still commensurate to our capacity for wonder.

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