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Spanning the Future- The Brooklyn Bridge Story

Posted by on July 7, 2013 at 10:05 AM

On May 24, 1883 the Brooklyn Bridge, linking Manhattan with Brooklyn opened for the first time in a grand ceremony with President Chester Arthur in attendance. At the time of its opening it was the longest suspension bridge in the country. It was truly a engineering marvel. Construction had begun on January 3, 1870 and took 13 years to complete, at an approximate cost of 15.5 million dollars in 1883 money. It is made of limestone, granite and Rosendale cement, in the Gothic style. 130 years later, it still maintains its place as one of the most recognizable structures in America. Ten Fun Facts about the Brooklyn Bridge 1. A National Landmark One of the longest suspension bridges in the country, the Brooklyn Bridge is 1,595.5 feet long and was deemed a National Historic Landmark in 1964. 2. A Family Project German immigrant John Augusts Roebling was the original designer of the bridge. When injuries sustained during construction rendered him unable to complete his project, Roebling’s wife Emily and son Washington stepped in to supervise completion of the project. 3. Dangerous Construction Working on the bridge was extremely dangerous- 27 people were killed during the bridge’s construction. 4. A New Name The bridge was originally to be called the New York and Brooklyn Bridge. However, a Brooklyn Daily Eagle editor referred to the bridge solely as the “Brooklyn Bridge” and the name stuck. The official name-change took place in 1915. 5. The Grand Opening After 13 years of work, the Brooklyn Bridge officially opened on May 24, 1883. President Chester Arthur and New York City Mayor Franklin Edson were in attendance with thousands of New Yorkers. The opening celebration included fireworks, musical performances, and a gunfire salute. Emily Roebling was the first person to cross the bridge. On that historic day, 1800 vehicles and over 150,000 people crossed the bridge. 6. Fear of Collapse Shortly after opening, rumors spread that the bridge was unstable. Fear of collapse caused a stampede in which a dozen people were killed. P.T. Barnum, founder of the famed circus, proved the rumors false by walking 21 of his elephants over the bridge. 7. A Multi-Use Bridge The bridge currently has six lanes for automobiles, but in the past saw traffic from horse-drawn carriages, trolleys, and streetcars. 8. Pedestrian Access Walking the Brooklyn Bridge has become a favorite pastime for New Yorkers and visitors alike. The pedestrian walkway is also open to cyclists and provides stunning views of the New York City Skyline and Hudson River. Unfortunately, it is also a popular place for jumpers, both of the suicidal and attention getting variety. The first person to jump from the Brooklyn Bridge was Robert Odlum on May 19, 1885. 9. Brooklyn Bridge Park Brooklyn Bridge Park is home to a dog park, many playgrounds, and acres of green space for both picnics and play. The park also sponsors dozens of free events throughout the spring and summer, such as outdoor movies, educational programs, and workouts on the waterfront. 10. A Symbol of New York City Recognized around the world as an icon of New York City, the bridge can be seen in films such as “Moonstruck,” “Spiderman,” “The Siege,” and many others.

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