The head of the Long Island Parkway told Robert Moses, “Legislation can change, but it’s very hard to tear down a bridge once it’s up.”
What he meant, what the notoriously racist Moses understood, was that once the systems are in place, they defend themselves. The roads of Boston have all outlasted the buildings. The buildings get razed and rebuilt, but the byways and thoroughfares remain, because the system demands far more effort to change than the road ever did to get built in the first place.
The irony of the word ‘bridge’ in this sentence is profound. Because when we say bridge, we usually mean a connection, or a way to move forward. And while these metaphorical bridges are far more fragile than the stuff Moses built, they’re worth building too.
Because one way to change systems is to start building connections and tunnels and yes, bridges, that make the old ones shift.