NYC - Brooklyn Bridge: Plaque
The Brooklyn Bridge (originally the New York and Brooklyn Bridge) stretches 5,989 feet (1825 m) over the East River (main span of 1,595 feet 6 inches) connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn. On completion, it was the largest suspension bridge in the world--fifty percent longer than any previously built, and the first steel-wire suspension bridge. For several years, the towers were also the tallest structures in the Western Hemipshere.
Designed by an engineering firm owned by John Augustus Roebling, the bridge is built from limestone, granite, and Rosendale natural cement in Gothic style, with characteristic pointed arches above the passageways through the stone towers. Roebling and his firm had built smaller suspension bridges, such as the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge in Cincinnati, and the Waco Suspension Bridge in Waco, Texas, that served as prototypes for the final design.
Construction began on January 3, 1870 and the bridge was opened on May 24, 1883. On that first day, a total of 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people crossed. The bridge cost $15.1 million to build and approximately 27 people died during its construction, including Roebling. As construction was beginning, Roebling's foot was injured by a ferry when it crashed into a wharf; within a few weeks, he died of tetanus caused by the amputation of his toes. His son, Washington, succeeded him, but was stricken with caisson disease (decompression sickness, commonly known as 'the bends'), from working in compressed air in caissons, in 1872. His wife, Emily Warren Roebling, became his aide, learning engineering and communicating his wishes to the on-site assistants. A week after the opening, on May 30, a rumor that the Bridge was going to collapse caused a stampede which crushed 12 people.
Bridges were not tested in wind tunnels until the 1950s. Roebling therefore designed the open truss structure supporting the deck to be six times as strong as he guessed it needed to be. A substitution of inferior qualify wire in the cabling, though, left the bridge just four times stronger, though. Either way, Roebling's design has held up in all conditions over the years.
At various times, the bridge has carried horses, subways (until 1944) and trolley streetcars (until 1950), it currently has 6 lanes for motor vehicles, with a separate walkway along the centerline for pedestrians.
For more of my pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge, click here.
The Brooklyn Bridge was designated a landmark by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1967.
Brooklyn Bridge National Register #66000523