Leon Reid IV Wants to Put a 60-Foot Spider on the Brooklyn Bridge


Earlier in October, artist Leon Reid IV succeeded in getting permission from the city to put an “I Love NY” cap, camera, subway map, and shopping bags on the oldest statue in New York City’s possession, Union Square’s George Washington. (The city had previously clad the statue in a cape for an NBC show, though they resisted Reid’s project for some time before relenting.) Now Reid has a new project in the works. It’s called “A Spider Lurks in Brooklyn,” and was inspired by his own walk across the Brooklyn Bridge in 2008, during which he wondered, “Is this what a bug feels like when it’s trapped in a spider web?”

The project would affix a vinyl helium balloon spider, measuring approximately 60 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 13 feet high, to the cables of the Brooklyn Bridge for 2 weeks in October — Reid’s current plan aims for October 2014 as a target date. He says, “I think the idea matches the theme of Halloween, and I intend for it to be a draw for tourists. Halloween is second only to Christmas for shopping and commerce, and this would also be a draw for businesses.”

How much would a giant spider in the Brooklyn Bridge cables cost? “$800,000 is the rough estimate,” says Reid. He’s teamed up with Artspire, a program of NYFA, as a sponsor, which allows him to offer tax deduction incentives to people and businesses who wish to contribute.

Reid says, “The spider is designed to be a float, like you’d see at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, fixed to the cables in a way that would not damage or be a public hazard. I’ve included an engineer in the budget” —

“What if it pops?” we asked.

— “If it pops, then it pops. You should note, I’ve budgeted for security. I’m intending to protect this installation while it’s up. There will be a security team.”

There will also be lawyers, engineers, insurance, and the manufacturing of the balloon (Reid says the spider itself is the least expensive aspect of the project), among other elements. While he has shown his plan to some city agencies, he doesn’t plan to formally introduce it to the Department of Transportation until he has money raised and an engineer on board.

In 2008, Danish artist Olafur Eliasson installed a portion of the “New York City Waterfalls,” a public art project that cost $15.5 million, beneath the bridge. “I don’t think anything has been allowed on the bridge itself,” says Reid, “So wish me luck.”

So far he has gotten an array of endorsements, and some criticisms from people who have said, for example, “Some people are afraid of spiders, you may prevent them from crossing the bridge.”

His response: “This is just fun. When was the last time you saw a 30-foot spider?”

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