Next Stop Poughkeepsie

Anyone who grew up watching Bugs Bunny cartoons knows that Steve Brodie is the guy who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge. In Bowery Bugs, all Brodie wanted a rabbit foot for good luck —but in real life what Brodie wanted was to be a celebrity, and that’s what he got after his 1886 plunge. Turns out that the Brooklyn Bridge wasn’t the only one that Brodie jumped off. He almost died after taking a leap from the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge in 1888, a towering structure that right now is being converted into a spectacular pedestrian walkway.

Half a mile south of the railroad bridge is the Mid-Hudson Bridge, where they once had such a problem with people jumping off that in 1985 they installed several suicide prevention hotline phones. They were early adaptors of this idea, and the phones are credited with saving dozens of people who went to the span thinking of jumping to their death.

One river, two bridges, and a couple of very different stories —and something to think about next time you cross the bridge into Poughkeepsie.