Culture and Recreation


When was the Brooklyn Bridge completed?

The bridge, which spans New York’s East River to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn, was completed in 1883. Upon opening, it was celebrated as a feat of modern engineering and, with its twin gothic towers, as an architectural landmark of considerable grace and beauty. It is a high statement of the era—an expression of the optimism of the Industrial Revolution. It was designed by German American engineer John Augustus Roebling (1806–1869), who, upon his death, was succeeded on the project by his son Washington Augustus Roebling (1837–1926). When the Brooklyn Bridge was finished, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world: it measures 1,595 feet. The bridge hangs from steel cables that are almost 16 inches thick. The cables are suspended from stone and masonry towers that are 275 feet tall. Specially designed watertight chambers allowed for the construction of the two towers—whose bases are built on the floor of the East River. The project proved to be an enormous and dangerous undertaking. Underwater workers suffered from the bends, a serious and potentially fatal blood condition caused by the decrease in pressure that results from rising from the water’s depth too quickly. But man prevailed against the elements and, following 14 laborious years, on May 24, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was inaugurated. Five years later, Brooklyn became a borough of New York City, and in 1964 the bridge was designated a national historic landmark.


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