Cat Greenleaf, Lifestyles Reporter
If you caught this morning’s story on Traffic Mysteries, we hope you found the answers to some long standing questions.
As a former traffic reporter, I am always amazed by people’s fascination with transit terms. I can’ t tell you how many times I was asked: “Is it the L-I-Double-R, or the LIRR?” (It doesn’t matter), “Can you actually turn on a turnpike?” (actually, you turn off of one), and “Why is there always a back-up on the inbound Gowanus?” In fact, people always made me say that very sentence to them upon learning my profession: “There is a backup on the inbound Gowanus!”
But in thinking about this story, I suddenly developed my own obsession with he meaning behind a particular crossing: The Tappan Zee Bridge, which connects Westchester and Rockland counties over the widest point of the Hudson River. It turns out the bridge was named for a local Indian tribe, the “Tappan”, and “Zee” means “sea” in Dutch. It makes sense, right? Yet I was strangely disappointed when I found out the literal meaning of the bridge.
After listening to people’s well considered questions about traffic landmarks, editing, and completing the story, I slowly realized why I have an affinity for the Tappan Zee, and why no word-for-word translation will ever satisfy me. It was the Tappan Zee Bridge that carried me to my grandfather in the final weeks of his life in Tarrytown. It was the flourish with which he said “Zee” every time he asked me how I got there to see him (which was every time, even though the answer was always the same). “Did you take the Tappan Zeee?”!
So now I guess I understand why everyone wants to know about the Throg’s Neck, the Deegan, or the FDR. Whether you’re lucky enough to live in the tri-state area, or have just passed through, everybody has had a memorable moment crossing a bridge, a fit of the giggles for no reason on the train, or a darling of a grandfather who said “Zeee” so beautifully.