By BRIDGE AND TUNNEL BREWERY | December 21, 2012 at 09:43 AM EST | 1 comment
Well, I've never maintained a blog before, and a lot is happening already with this small brewery, and I figure if I don't start documenting stuff, it will be lost. And it might be an interesting story.
Before I start rambling on, I want to thank EVERYBODY who has dropped me an e-mail, offered to help me out with aspects of the brewery, wrote about the brewery, liked the facebook page, added encouraging comments, etc. The brewery is officially a little over 3 months old, and the feedback has been very positive, and I really appreciate it. Just wanted to put that out there. I don't take any gesture of support lightly.
Now something that has been on my mind, that I would like to dole out a few paragraphs on. I'm at a point where product is starting to find it's way into bars and growler filling stores. I'm meeting owners of establishments, and talking about the brewery. And in that process, a question has come up a couple of times - specifically, why did I name the brewery - Bridge and Tunnel Brewery. I thought it was a really good question. It was a question that I hoped would come up at some point, and now I figure it's a good time to address it.
I don't pay too much attention to what the term Bridge and Tunnel may, or may not mean nowadays. My history in this city goes further back to whatever definition may be out there in the present. Some people say the term itself is negative. I'd like to detail what I know of the term - spanning over 20 years back.
Years ago - and by that I mean, mid to late 80s, early to mid nineties - Manhattan was the only place where one could go and find a bar that wasn't a sports bar or what we used to call an 'old man' bar. The outer boroughs didn't have much going on, and back then, neighborhoods ranged anywhere on the scale from dicey, to dangerous, to being wastelands. Did I spend my formative years in the city, even though I resided in Queens? Absolutely. From when I was 15 years old, I would come in with my punk rock female friend at the time, and spend entire days in the East and West Village - buying music, sitting in Washington Square Park, or walking - in retrospect - miles over the course of a day, often in bitter cold (kids just don't know pain). It's what you did when you had no money, and were too young to stop in anywhere for a beer. Years later, I went to college in the city, while working full time to pay for it all myself (as the majority of kids in my college had to do). Were we all Bridge and Tunnel kids? We absolutely were. We were from Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx - dreaming of better jobs, better times, and for many, a chance to get out of New York, because back then, it was a broken down and divided place. The people from my generation in New York remember clearly the way that it used to be here. Everyone had stories of being mugged, jumped, having to fight to protect themselves, etc. I remember back in 1990, I had a buddy who had gotten into a scuff in the city on New Years Eve. He and his friends had gotten a gun pulled on them. One guy died, who I also knew growing up. The guy who I called a friend had gotten shot through his neck. They were statistically the first victims of violent crime for the year - in the whole country. In that same year I had gotten jumped as well. Another long story - but I nearly had gotten stabbed, and to this day, I still have the other guy's knife. That was New York City at that time, which if you think about it, is not very long ago. And the people that endured those environments - would have been called Bridge and Tunnel People. Back then, the definition was limited to those from Queens, Brooklyn, and The Bronx. We populated the CUNY schools, and worked our asses off at part time and full time jobs to pay for it. If the term was used, it simply meant that you didn't live in the city. It was not a put-down, and if it ever was used on negative terms, it was thrown around by characters who you would never bother introducing yourself to, let alone have a beer with anyway. The name of the brewery, in part, is an acknowledgement to all of those New York kids that pulled themselves up, as well as to that specific time frame in the history of New York. This city was a place that tested you to your core, and in the outer boroughs, that test at times was more intense.
20+ years later, and we find a city that is quite different. Crime rates are at all time lows. Neighborhoods that at one time were dotted either with empty lots (from arson in the 70s), or shells of empty warehouses, are now thriving neighborhoods, with new construction happening everywhere you look. Just in the past 13 years, my wife and I have watched very closely areas like DUMBO (a place that at one time was where people went to get fitted with concrete shoes), Williamsburg, BUSHWICK (I write in caps because I cannot believe how Bushwick is changing), Long Island City, Astoria. These neighborhoods have become, or are becoming incredibly dynamic and vibrant neighborhoods. There are a lot of newer residents that live in those areas now. And there is something to recognize in that. Regardless of how long you have been in those areas, know one thing - that your presence in those neighborhoods is serving to breathe life back into communities, and is perpetuating the positive forward motion of those neighborhoods. You are important parts of this city. But remember that to know this city is to embrace it in it's entirety - and that includes it's not so distant history, and the people that had endured through all of New York's growing pains, to where we all find ourselves today.
So if you find yourself pondering the term: Bridge and Tunnel, I ask you to focus on what it used to mean, and who it used to represent. And if you do not live in Manhattan, and feel in the least bit offended by the term, don't. You are part of the backbone of what makes this city, what it is, and by you choosing to live in Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx, and bringing whatever creativity that you have brought to those neighborhoods, and this city as a whole - trust me when I say that the positive change in the boroughs over the last decade has been absolutely amazing, and you are one of the people to thank. Go with the old school definition. We need you in the outer boroughs.