The Brooklyn Bridge (inaugurated 24 May 1883).
The Brooklyn Bridge looms majestically over New York City’s East River, linking the two boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Since 1883, its granite towers and steel cables have offered a safe and scenic passage to millions of commuters and tourists, trains and bicycles, pushcarts and cars.
The Man with the Plan
John Augustus Roebling, the Brooklyn Bridge’s creator, was a great pioneer in the design of steel suspension bridges. Born in Germany in 1806, he studied industrial engineering in Berlin and at the age of 25 immigrated to the USA. He moved to the Pennsylvania state capital Harrisburg, where he found work as a civil engineer. He promoted the use of wire cable and established a successful wire-cable factory. Meanwhile, he earned a reputation as a designer of suspension bridges, which at the time were widely used but known to fail under strong winds or heavy loads. Roebling addressed these problems by combining structural elements from previous bridge designs—including cable arrays and stiffening trusses.
Brooklyn Bridge would be the very first steel suspension bridge, boasting the longest span in the world: 468m from tower to tower.
Just before construction began in 1869, Roebling was fatally injured while taking a few final compass readings across the East River. A boat smashed the toes on one of his feet, and three weeks later he died of tetanus. His 32-year-old son, Washington A. Roebling, took over as chief engineer.
On May 24, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge over the East River opened, connecting the great cities of New York and Brooklyn for the first time in history. Thousands of residents of Brooklyn and Manhattan Island turned out to witness the dedication ceremony. Within 24 hours, more than 150,000 people walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, using a broad promenade above the roadway that John Roebling designed solely for the enjoyment of pedestrians.
With its unprecedented length and two stately towers, the Brooklyn Bridge was dubbed the “eighth wonder of the world.” For several years after its construction, it remained the tallest structure in the Western hemisphere. The connection it provided between the massive population centers of Brooklyn and Manhattan changed the course of New York City forever.
About the Author:
Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.