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Song in the City

Queensboro Bridge at night
Steveen Manon
Sue Hassel has plenty of time to serenade commuters as she walks across the Queensboro Bridge

Years ago, before iPods, Pads and Phones, there was a young man I saw on a regular basis who walked at a rapid pace all over Columbus with a boombox on his shoulder singing along with whatever was the tune du jour.  

His vocalizations were punctuated by appropriately-timed fist punches, along with air drums and cymbals.  He eventually graduated to a personal stereo, which meant he could play his air drums with both hands and not risk a rotator cuff injury from holding the giant sound system.

There is a similar twice-daily occurrence weekdays in New York City which is apparently equally entertaining, but far more musical.

If you're driving across the Queensboro Bridge, you might hear something faintly familiar drifting on the breeze.  Is that Verdi?  Wagner?  Yes to both.

For six years, Sue Hassel has serenaded joggers, bikers, and drivers as she made her way over the bridge during her daily commute.  Instead of an orchestra, her accompaniment is the city itself - honking taxis, rumbling trucks and subways and street vendors, all of it adds to the score of her daily soundtrack.  Some slow down to listen, while others wave as they pass.

Not taking the Queensboro Bridge?  How about driving through construction on 2nd Ave?  If so, you can enjoy a little Sinatra...courtesy of construction worker Gary Russo.


Maybe tomorrow morning, instead of plugging in your earbuds while you wait for the bus, stand in line at Starbucks, or walk toward your office building, leave them out and listen to the rhythm of your city.  You might just find yourself singing along.  Wait - is that Verdi?

Read 59th Street Bridge Singer (NY Times)