taste_is_sweet: (On a Daily Basis)
[personal profile] taste_is_sweet

Consider The Leaside Bridge in Toronto. Spanning the Don Valley (and the Don Valley Parkway); originally built in 1927 and now carrying six lanes of traffic; current contender for second favourite suicide magnet after the Golden Gate Bridge now that the Prince Edward Viaduct (commonly called the Bloor Street Viaduct) had a barrier built onto it in 1999; about to have prominent mention in the second half of chapter nine because one of the characters will vaguely consider jumping off it.

And, apparently, the Leaside Bridge has a catwalk which runs right underneath, is wide enough for one person to walk along and would be extremely easy to throw one's self from, not to mention avoid the scrutiny of all the bicyclists, other pedestrians and cars on the bridge above.

It would be really cool to have this character get onto the catwalk (the information I've read about it online says it's very easy to do). The only problem is that I spent over 13 years in Toronto before moving to Texas, and I had no clue about the catwalk under the Leaside Bridge, and this character is an American who's only been in Toronto for a few months.

So...would he know about the catwalk? He's not really committed to ending his life so this isn't something he would have researched, but maybe bridges having catwalks is common knowledge and it's just that I'm too much of a dork to know it? Do any of you guys live in places with bridges that have catwalks underneath them? Did you know about it?

The thing that constantly amazes me (and drives me nuts) about writing is that I can be barreling along at full-tilt, sure I'll finish a chapter in a day or so, only to suddenly need some small yet suddenly completely vital piece of information that brings everything to a screeching halt. I haven't written more than 200 words today, and it's already 3:30. :( But I've done over an hour of research on a bridge.

(no subject)

19/7/11 21:08 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] debris_k.livejournal.com
I can speak from my personal experience of trying to figure out ways to get onto bridges by foot (and avoid walking on the car or trolley lanes, natch) in Budapest and usually it depended on my luck in finding the right footpath somewhere where the bridge meets the land. Sometimes it was as easy as walking along a park, seeing a continued walkway and/or bicycle road that continued towards the bridge and looked promising, and ambling that-a-way. And sometimes it was a hell of crossing roads back and forth, looking around, under and in underground passages, overhead walkways and places where cars went but I hoped I wouldn't get run over if I climbed over a barrier to get to a patch that looked promising.

So, if you don't want to get very precise you could have the character wander around and stumble onto the way to the catwalk by chance, or ask for directions once he sees the catwalk or something. If you'd want to get as precise as possible I suspect finding out how the heck one gets onto the catwalk anyway would be needed. :-/

Anyways, not sure that was helpful, but I hope it doesn't muddle things up further. XD

P.S. None of the bridges in Budapest (or Belgrade) that I tackled by foot had catwalks. Paths for foot traffic somewhere along the side of the roads was the most they had, but then they're hardly all 6-laned super-bridges or anything, even if they're expanded to hold that many lanes.
Edited 19/7/11 21:12 (UTC)

(no subject)

19/7/11 21:18 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Budapest! Wow. I've been there myself, but only for a day or so. It must have been wonderful getting to see so much of it! (Without being run over of course).

That doesn't mix things up, thank you. Unfortunately there is already a pedestrian pathway going along the deck of the bridge, so he wouldn't have to search for a way across. I'm sorry I didn't think to mention that.

But thank you. :D I appreciate the idea.

(no subject)

19/7/11 21:25 (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sholio
Ooh! This is something I have personal experience with. :D Well, not the Don River bridge, but a different bridge catwalk.

When I was a college student, I spent one summer working as a hotel coffee shop barista in Denali Park, Alaska. There was a catwalk under the nearby Nenana River canyon bridge -- very difficult to get to, this one, probably to keep curious thrill seekers off it; you had to crawl on girders to get there. The transient summer-employment population of the Denali Park businesses is almost entirely composed of college students and 20-somethings, most of them into outdoor sports of various sorts, so it was not too surprising that knowledge of the existence of the catwalk had spread widely among them, and going out on the catwalk was one of the Things To Do that summer. (The other Thing To Do among the same group of people that summer was hiking out to see the bus where that guy starved to death -- the summer I worked in Denali was the summer that Jon Krakauer's book "Into the Wild" came out, so it was rather widely talked about.) And yes, I did go out on the catwalk, and yes, it was terrifying.

So all you need to do is make sure your character knows some teens or 20-somethings who either grew up in the Toronto area or are into outdoorsy macho stuff in general (rock climbing, mountain biking), and therefore would talk about crazy/dangerous/weird things to do in the Toronto area, or at least have stories about friends-of-friends who have done stupid, crazy things in the Toronto area. (20-something guys, in my general experience, ALWAYS have stories like this.) Or, if your character is not of a suitable age and occupation for this to make sense, then you could have him/her have had experience like this in the past -- perhaps he/she went to high school in a place that had a bridge catwalk, and heard stories about it from the kids (maybe some friend-of-a-friend classmate committed suicide off it?), and now, having moved to a new city, is curious if this city's bridges have catwalks too, so he/she took a peek one time to find out.

(no subject)

19/7/11 21:32 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Wow--the life experiences of you guys are amazing!

The character should know a lot of twenty-somethings, but he's been in a very bad way for awhile and is pretty isolated. But there's actually a place I wrote about in the book where he could have either overheard or taken part in a conversation about the catwalk. (It seems a lot of people who grew up in the area of the bridge went on the catwalk, and there's lots of graffiti on the girders in terrifying places.)

So, you've given me an idea! Thank you. :D

Forgot to add

19/7/11 21:33 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Oh! Replying to my own comment to add that as far as I can tell, there aren't any bridges with catwalks where the character comes from. ::shrugs::

(no subject)

19/7/11 21:44 (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sholio
Glad to help! :)

If you're actually going to set a scene there, I took my camera with me on that little jaunt, and I actually know exactly where my Denali pictures are - would you like me to scan a couple for you? I'm sure the Leaside Bridge catwalk looks different, but it might give an idea of the general ambiance. (Obviously if this is just something that he thinks about, there'd be no reason why you would need this, though.)

(no subject)

19/7/11 21:47 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
That's very kind, but I was able to find several beautiful pictures of the Leaside Bridge from many angles, including pictures taken from the catwalk. So that part's sewn up--it's just figuring out exactly how the character knows it's there. But I've got a couple of ideas now that I think will work, so thank you. :D

(no subject)

19/7/11 22:15 (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sholio
Oh good - I'm glad you've got what you need! :) (Isn't the Internet great? How did we ever do research before Google came along?)

(no subject)

19/7/11 23:56 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Libraries! And I remember how long that took... We are definitely in a blessed information age. Mostly. :)
Posted by [identity profile] squeakyoflight.livejournal.com
How will his sister's ex-husband the cop find him on the bridge if he's not on the bridge?

I think that you can just have him contemplating ending his miserable existance while he's on the bridge, cop comes by and scoops him, and on the drive back to the sister's house, says 'it's lucky you weren't on the cat walk! I'd never have seen you!' and Jake's all like *DAMN!!!*

There are my two cents.

And yeah, I used to cross that bridge on my way to my job every day for 2 years, and I never knew there was a cat walk. Wow.

Love you!

Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Well, the cop sees him while he's driving by on the DVP below the bridge. :) Why? Because he already knows that they're searching for him and he's smat like dat. (Also I've seen pictures, and it would be possible to see a person if you're going under the bridge.)

The problem with being on the deck of the bridge is that during the day (when the scene has to take place--logistics, man) there is way too much traffic. Someone would get suspicious and then wham! The bridge would be blocked and I'd have to deal with several cops and probably firefighters and an ambulance as well. Which would just take the scene where I don't want it to go. But the catwalk is nice and quiet. :)

Love you too! Thank you for the suggestion!

(no subject)

20/7/11 02:43 (UTC)
ext_28878: (Default)
Posted by [identity profile] claudia603.livejournal.com
I hate research, lol! It annoys me that I don't just know everything about everything (kidding, of course!) But seriously, I hate it when the creative drive has to be disrupted by not knowing some detail or other...

(no subject)

20/7/11 02:45 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
I appreciate the sympathy and understanding. :D

(no subject)

20/7/11 06:21 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] caras-galadhon.livejournal.com
My father grew up in the Toronto area, and used to play around the bridges you mention. I asked him, and he said that if your character is walking below the bridge (in the ravine?), it is easy to see the catwalk, and that it's easy to get into it if you climb the girders from the base up, but that it's harder to both see and get into the catwalk from the bridge itself, as it's recessed beneath.

(no subject)

20/7/11 19:06 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com

Please, please, thank him for me! And thank YOU for asking him on my behalf. That was terrifically kind and gave me just the answer I needed.

Oh, man! Thank you so much!

(no subject)

21/7/11 05:05 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] caras-galadhon.livejournal.com
*G* Our pleasure! Just glad to help! Btw, I had him clarify a little, and the girders you can climb up are on the Prince Edward Viaduct (which also has a catwalk), not the Leaside Bridge. That alters the info I gave you somewhat, but not a lot, because instead of being easy to climb (the Leaside has straight pillars extending up from the base, not curved girders), it's that it's easy to get on the Leaside catwalk provided you approach it from either side of the bridge (not the base). It's still difficult to get on the catwalk while you're on the bridge, because it's recessed.

Also, it gave him an excuse to tell me about the two jumpers he and his friends saw as kids -- two separate occasions -- which was morbid but interesting, so... ^_~

(no subject)

22/7/11 17:28 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Ah! I was wondering where the girders you mentioned were, since the website I'd been looking at didn't have any pictures of them, despite having detailed shots of the bridge in general. I really appreciate the clarification, especially as it confirms what I was thinking. The embankments on either end of the bridge don't look too steep to climb up, so that should work. :) Thank you again.

I'm morbidly curious about the two jumpers myself, but for no good reason I'll admit. Did they jump from the Prince Edward Viaduct?

Really appreciate this. :D

(no subject)

22/7/11 23:18 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] caras-galadhon.livejournal.com
Yeah, after I commented the first time, I went and looked at photos and ended up going, "Uh, Dad? WTF?" and then untangled that he was giving me information on the wrong bridge, and extracted the correct info. *facepalm* Sorry about that.

Well... for you and anyone else reading, I think I should mention right here that I'm about to talk about potentially upsetting events. Ok? Ok.

Yep, IIRC, both were off the PE, although Dad noted that they called the two separate parts of the PE the Prince Edward Viaduct and the Bloor Street Bridge respectively (instead of calling all of it one or the other name). Obviously, this was before the barriers were built.

One, he said, was while his friends and he were playing on the bridge, and a couple a short distance away were having a fight. Just as the streetcar pulled up, the woman shouted at the man, "Why don't you just jump off the bridge?" She then got on the streetcar and left. The man then turned and leaped over the railing. Dad said he hit all the trees on the way down, and as a result, he survived.

The other was while Dad and his buddies were walking along the other half of the bridge, obviously on a different day. Some guy had climbed the girders, so they were wondering what the hell was up, and suddenly, he jumped. They all stuck their heads out to watch as he fell. Dad said the guy hit the ground, in what was essentially a mud puddle, got up, staggered a couple feet forward, then collapsed and died.

Quite disturbing, but who knows, maybe info I can use in a story someday, I guess?

(no subject)

27/7/11 01:57 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Thank you for the information, and the stories. They are certainly interesting but horrifying and also very sad. How old was your dad when he saw these? Did he tell you? I can't help wondering how it affected him. It sure as hell affected me just reading about it. I'm very glad that I'm definitely going to throw anyone in this novel off a bridge.

(no subject)

20/7/11 12:46 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] ribbon-purple.livejournal.com
I don't really know much about bridges, love, but if you need help with the research let me know. *hugs*

(no subject)

20/7/11 19:06 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Thank you, sweetheart. :D I think I'm good with the Leaside stuff for now, but I won't hesitate to ask if I need something else. Which hopefully I won't...

Bloor Street Viaduct catwalk

23/8/12 21:14 (UTC)
Posted by (Anonymous)
There is a cat-walk under the Blorr Viaduct.
it runs between the two subway lines and has ~4' wide gaps every so often along it's length.
I was probably only around 8~10 yrs old.
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Thank you. I was able to find out about catwalks earlier, though.

Leaside bridge

1/11/13 02:08 (UTC)
Posted by (Anonymous)
I have been on the catwalk if that bridge many times in my mid teens. You can gain access easily on the north side , walk off the side at the end of the bridge and walk down under the bridge. There are a small set if stairs to the cat walk which is not high in that area. Then bam you are on the catwalk . Back the then was not a fence or any barrier . I'm sure there is now . One of the comment says you can see the cat walk from the ravine no you can't the bridge is way too high from the ravine


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