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Interesting Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge

A marvellous engineering feat of the 19th century, the Brooklyn Bridge is New York's one of the most iconic landmarks.
Jyoti Babel May 2, 2019
Formally opened to the public on May 24th 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the first steel-wire suspension bridge in the world. With 1595 feet central span, it was the longest suspension bridge until 1903 when it was taken over by the neighbouring Williamsburg Bridge by just 4.5 feet.
A combination of techniques from both suspension style bridge and the cable-stayed bridge were used in its construction to give it the sturdy strength over distance. The bridge towers stand 276 feet over water and are architecturally designed in Neo-Gothic open truss style that was popular during the 19th century.
6114 tonnes of construction material, 600 workers and a cost of $15 million over 14 years of construction period went into the making of the Brooklyn Bridge. 4 cables which are 1090 meters long, 40 centimetres thick and comprising of 21000 individual wires support the bridge.
The construction of Brooklyn Bridge had been plagued by tragedies since its inception. The bridge was the brainchild of designer John A. Roebling who died of tetanus, just a few days after the construction had begun, due to an injury he received while working at the site of the bridge.
Washington Roebling took over his father’s supervision duties but the bad luck followed him too and he got bedridden due to Caisson's disease, a decompression sickness (also known as bends) common among construction labourers working in watertight chambers.
While there is no official number of deaths, but at least 20-30 people succumbed to death in the making of the bridge. Some workers fell off the bridge, some were hit by construction debris and many were affected by Caisson's disease.
Emily Warren Roebling, wife of Washington Roebling stepped into her husband's shoes and oversaw the construction of the bridge till its completion.
That is one reason why Brooklyn Bridge is looked upon as an early feminist victory as it did crush some notions of stereotyped gender roles. Emily had the honour of being the first person to cross the bridge on its opening day for the role she played in its construction. She rode across the bridge on an open carriage with a rooster – a symbol of victory.
The Brooklyn Bridge had a grand opening on May 24th 1883. But disaster soon struck in the form of a stampede 7 days later after there was a rumour of pending collapse of the bridge. 12 people died and a couple of dozens were injured while people frantically tried to escape the bridge.
At the time of its construction, the Brooklyn Bridge connected two different cities – Manhattan and Brooklyn. It was only in 1898 that Brooklyn became a part of the New York City. The Bridge was first named Brooklyn and New York bridge and later also came to be known as East River Bridge. It was only in 1915 that it was officially named the Brooklyn Bridge.
A shopping arcade – Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage was designed inside the bridge’s foundation on the Brooklyn side. But the plan didn’t work out as intended and that space had been used for various art exhibitions till 2001. There are vaults below the arcade area which were once rented out as wine cellar.
In the year 2006, during a routine inspection of the vaults, a complete stash of cold war emergency supplies was discovered in one of the vaults – medical supplies, food and clothing.
The Brooklyn Bridge faces a huge influx of traffic every day. Over 100,000 vehicles, 4000 pedestrians and 3000 bicyclists cross the bridge every day making it a very busy place.
There are many ways to soak in the beauty of this architectural masterpiece. A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge can be an experience in itself, especially at night with the whole bridge lit up. There are several walking and bike tours that one can opt for.
However, if you are looking to capture the whole bridge in a frame, heading to Pier 1 at Brooklyn Bridge Park (on Brooklyn side) or to Pier 15 on the Manhattan side can be a good idea. Even after 140 years of its construction, the Brooklyn Bridge still evokes awe and wonder among its spectators.