New Jersey – like most places in the world – can lay claim to at least one Eighth Wonder of the World. If you’ve seen The Sopranos, you’ve seen our Eighth Wonder: the Pulaski Skyway. A succession of interconnected bridges and roadway soaring high over the Hackensack River and Passaic Rivers and the town of Kearny, the Skyway (as locals call it) is, technically a “viaduct”, carrying Routes 1 & 9 one and a third miles from Jersey City to Newark.
Originally called “The Diagonal Highway”, it was built at a cost of twenty million dollars, fifteen construction casualties and one “labor-related” murder to connect the easternmost portion of the transcontinental Lincoln Highway to the Holland Tunnel. When it opened in 1932, the Skyway got raves from the American Institute of Steel Construction, which singled it out as "Most Beautiful Steel Structure" among long-span bridges. Upon dedication, it was re-named in honor of the “Father of the American Cavalry”: Revolutionary War hero General Casimir Pulaski, killed while galloping heroically into battle.
“Galloping heroically into battle” pretty much sums up how one approaches the Skyway – as locals call it. With no shoulder to harbor police, drivers feel emboldened to go AS FAST AS THEY POSSIBLY CAN. Despite the posted 45 mile per hour speed limit, most times I'm doing twice that just to keep up with traffic. It's INSANE! And in the sixteen or so years I’ve been using the Skyway I’ve NEVER seen someone pulled over for speeding.
Which gave me an entrepreneurial idea: if the two-lane Skyway is going to be used like a speedway, why not make it official? Create a starting line, install a “Christmas tree” staging light (they count down red, yellow, green), mark off a quarter-mile and put in some automated cameras at the finish line. The new Pulaski Speedway could host thousands of races a day.
Imagine your mother’s “pavement-pounding ’96 Honda Civic!" up against those three guys in the "ground-shaking Dodge Palacios Carpets delivery van!”. Or your “insane ’97 Jeep Wrangler taking on Big Al in his "gas-guzzling 1985 Pontiac Parisienne!” And the best part is the merchandising: I envision a whole line of Pulaski Speedway tchotckes, apparel, drinking glasses, etc., all taking advantage of its impressive silhouette and subtle Sopranos connection. Sure, whoever gets to the finish line first gets a ticket in the mail… BUT they also get the satisfaction of knowing they beat the other guy AND a commemorative Pulaski Speedway T-shirt. The other guy just gets a ticket in the mail.