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Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States, spanning the East River from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Bridge, 1890

Nearly 1.3 miles long, it was opened for use on May 24, 1883, after 14 years of construction. On that first day a total of 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people crossed. The bridge cost $18 million to build and approximately 27 people died during its construction. A week after the opening, on May 30, a rumor that the Bridge was going to collapse caused a stampede which crushed twelve people.

At the time it opened, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world, and has become a treasured landmark. Since the 1980s, it has been floodlit at night to display its architectural features. It will be interesting to add that the Blue bridge in Cincinati was an experiment for the engineering design. I don't have the details.

The bridge was designed by John Augustus Roebling. His son, Washington, succeeded him, but was stricken with caisson disease (bends), due to working in compressed air with the sand hogs, and was unable to talk or move. His wife, Emily Warren Roebling[?], trained herself in engineering so she could communicate his wishes to the builders. Roebling was unable to leave his home and watched the construction via binoculars.

At various times, the bridge has carried horses and trolley traffic; at present, it has lanes for motor vehicles, and a separate level for pedestrians and bicycles.

References to "selling the Brooklyn Bridge" abound in American culture, sometimes as examples of rural gullibility but more often in connection with an idea that strains credulity. For example, "If you believe that, I have a wonderful bargain for you . . ." However, see also Victor Lustig.

The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge is detailed in a film by Ken Burns.

view from the pedestrian path of the Brooklyn Bridge
(photo taken 2002)

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