New York City, NY

The History of the Brooklyn Bridge, New York City

Traveling with Alice

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Brooklyn Bridge, New York, United StatesPhoto by Hannes Richter on Unsplash

One of the major highlights of any New York City walking tour is the majestic Brooklyn Bridge that connects the areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The bridge's Gothic stone towers inspire reverence and enthusiasm in many visitors. The Brooklyn Bridge, which spans the East River, was a modern wonder when it opened on May 24, 1883.

Looking at the magnificent structure today, it's hard to imagine that its beginnings were less than stellar. Way back in 1867, a noted bridge builder named John A. Roebling began the project.

Due to financing issues and political tussling, construction on the bridge didn't start until 1870.

Unluckily, J.A. Roebling would not live to see his vision become true since he died from an injury he'd gotten while visiting the site. His son, Washington Roebling, an able bridge engineer, took the lead on the project with an active role in the goings-on at the construction site.

One day, after staying too much time in an airtight cylinder beneath the East River, he got sick with the bends.

While Washington partially recovered from his illness, his wife Emily stepped in, and they formed an effective team admired for their can-do spirit. Emily became the active manager on the field while Washington was her consultant from the bed of their apartment where he was recovering.

The couple encountered many difficulties during the development of the Brooklyn Bridge, including political resistance and the holding up of funds. They pushed through these challenges and finally saw the completion of the bridge project J.A. Roebling had begun so many years earlier.

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Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn, NY, USAPhoto by Ismail Merad on Unsplash

There was a celebration on the day the bridge opened. 150,000 people and 1,800 vehicles crossed the bridge that very first day. At that time, if you were walking across, you had to pay one cent while transports used to pay five cents. By all accounts, the Brooklyn Bridge was a technological, artistic, and social success.

The Brooklyn Bridge is today a national historic landmark, and people still enjoy walking across its 1,595-foot span. The walk can take anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes. The scenery is breathtaking as you stop along the path to read all the historical information plaques.

Don't forget to bring a jacket with you since the East River kicks up quite a breeze and enjoy the view in the distance of another famous New York City landmark, the Statue of Liberty.

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