Cesar Pazmino's morning walk is not for the fearful. It's a dizzying, quarter-mile ascent along a narrow steel cable leading to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge 276 feet above the East River.
Pazmino is not a daredevil - but a city employee responsible for taking care of the two American flags atop the iconic landmark.
"It's beautiful. It's like, when you go underneath those two towers, it's like being in a cathedral," Pazmino said.
Pazmino has worked for the city's Transportation Department for 30 years. For 27 of them, he's been taking care of the flags on the bridges. The Brooklyn Bridge is his favorite.
Its two flags - one on each tower - fly 24/7. He replaces them only a few times a year, when they fray - his safety dependent on a harness clipped to one of the bridge's smaller cables.
One recent day with a city camera following him, Pazmino checked out a replacement flag he raised the day before the Fourth of July.
"We go up as often as needed. For the most part I'll be going up there to raise, lower, change the flags, paint the flag poles," Pazmino said.
It's a fitting job for a man who was born on July 4th and immigrated here when he was 10, moving with his parents from Colombia to Queens. His immigrant experience is partly why he remembers his first climb on the bridge.
"It was great. Because it was the Brooklyn Bridge, you're walking up the tower, and you have the honor to raise and lower the flags," Pazmino said.
His job is the hardest and most meaningful, he says, when he lowers flags to half-staff to honor a fallen police officer or another city worker killed on the job. Both of his sons are cops.
He also thinks a lot about September 11th. A few days after the attack, he lowered the flags to half-staff as the World Trade Center ruins were still smoldering.
"That was bad," Pazmino recalled. "You go to pay respect to them in the daily basis...when I come up here and I look in that direction and the towers are no longer there. It's a constant reminder.
Pazmino is 63 years old, but is not looking to retire.
"I love doing what I do," he said.
His parents hoped he would become a lawyer or a doctor but his job has brought to him to great heights, caring for the flags atop a symbol of New York.
"I'm standing on top of the world, are you kidding me?" Pazmino said.