Brooklyn Bridge Completed
Brooklyn Bridge PaintingOn May 25, the New York boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn were linked with the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge was the first steel suspension bridge erected in the United States. It was built at a cost of $16 million and 26 lives. When it opened, the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world.
Brooklyn was a separate city and not part of New York City. It was separated from New York by the East River and the only way to cross were a series of ferries that connected the two cities. The dream had always been to build a bridge. John August Roebling became the first designer. He had previously designed smaller suspension bridges. He was injured while surveying for the bridge and died in 1869, but before he died he placed his 32 year old son in charge of design and construction.
Construction of the bridge began that same year. The two main towers of the bridge were built on floating wooden caissons, that as stone towers were build on them began to sink to the bottom of the river. As they sunk compressed air was pumped into them to allow workers to dig out sediment until the towers reached bedrock. Workers however, became sick-suffering from what we know of today as the bends (decompression sickness) from working on the project. One of those afflicted was Washington Roebling who was in charge of the project and became unable to visit the site. He was forced to supervise the building from his apartment which overlooked the bridge construction. His wife Emily became his conduit to the people on the site, and she learned advanced mathematics to calculate many of the parameters needed to finish the construction. The bridge is technically a suspension bridge with cable between the two towers and the bridge suspended below.
Word on the bridge was completed in 1883 and it was opened on May 24, 1883, with a ceremony that included President Chester Arthur. On the first day it opened 150,000 people and 1,800 vehicle crossed the bridge.The bridge main span is 1,595 feet and six inches and was built at a cost of $15.5 million. 27 people died during its construction.