When Was the Brooklyn Bridge Built?

The Brooklyn Bridge connects Manhattan and Brooklyn in New York City, USA.
The Brooklyn Bridge connects Manhattan and Brooklyn in New York City, USA.

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most iconic pieces of American engineering as it spans a length of nearly 6,000 feet in New York City. The bridge was built spanning the East River to connect the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Bridge is among America's most ancient roadway bridges as it was completed in 1883 after construction began in 1869. In the past, the Brooklyn Bridge was referred to as the East River Bridge as well as the New York Bridge. The name Brooklyn Bridge traces its origin to the letter published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and the local government officially adopted the name in 1915. The Brooklyn Bridge has earned several distinctions over the years with one of the most notable being declared a National Historic Landmark.

History of the Brooklyn Bridge

John Roebling, a civil engineer who had moved from Germany to America, came up with an idea to construct the bridge and spent a vast amount of time trying to convince the city's leadership of the importance of the project. Roebling's experience in creating high-quality projects was one of the factors that contributed to the New York State Senate approving the plan. He was later involved in an accident, and as a result, he left the project in the hands of his son, Washington Roebling. During its construction, a large number of workers suffered decompression sickness which at the time was an unknown condition. The disease greatly afflicted Washington Roebling, and he was unable to supervise the project in person. On May 24, 1883, the bridge was officially opened, and some of the people who attended the occasion included President Chester Arthur and Seth Low who at the time was mayor of Brooklyn.

Design of the Brooklyn Bridge

In designing the Brooklyn Bridge, John Roebling drew heavily on the neo-Gothic architectural tradition. The Brooklyn Bridge was created as a suspension bridge however it incorporates elements of the hybrid cable-stayed design to achieve stability and an improved design. Some of the materials used in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge include limestone obtained from Clark Quarry, granite from Vinalhaven Island, and Rosendale Cement. Some of the unique features of the bridge's design include compartments and passageways that were constructed into the bridge's anchorages. Several huge vaults exist beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, and they were essential to financing its construction as they were rented out mainly for the storage of wine due to the ideal conditions such as the low temperatures.

Usage of the Bridge

During the initial years after its completion, the bridge was primarily used for horse-drawn traffic as well as rail transport with pedestrians using the elevated walkway designed for them. Technological advancement changed the nature of the vehicles that used the bridge as from 1950 the bridge had six lanes of vehicle traffic. Many restrictions are placed on the cars that travel along the bridge as automobile past a certain height and weight are not allowed on the bridge.

Importance of the Brooklyn Bridge

At the time the bridge was built, it was a symbol of hope in what technology could achieve. John Perry, a premier American poet, wrote that the builders had to have a lot of faith in both their ability and the technology they were using. The Brooklyn Bridge is also prominently featured in pictures of New York as well as films set in the city.


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