Monday, September 20, 2010

⅏Did You Know: - The Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn - Fulton Ferry: Fulton Ferry Landing - Brooklyn Bridge (panoramic)
Photo by Flickr user wallyg

Did You Know on May 24th, 1883 New York City's Brooklyn Bridge opened after 13 years of construction. The toll to cross the bridge that day was 1 cent; it rose to 3 cents thereafter, then became toll-free in 1911!

More Brooklyn Bridge-related Facts:
  • The driving force behind the whole project, John Roebling, was a German immigrant who had worked for the Prussian government as a bridge and road builder. He launched the idea of building a bridge across the East River after he had taken a ferry across the river that ended up stuck in the ice.
  • On the day of the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge - May 24, 1883, 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people crossed the bridge.
  • John Roebling would never get to see the bridge he had designed: he died after crushing his foot in an accident. After amputation of his crushed toes he developed a tetanus infection which left him incapacitated and resulting in his death. The son of John Roebling, Washington Roebling, took over the leadership of the project but he suffered from the caisson-disease as a result of the works on the pillars of the bridge and was on his deathbed during the inauguration.
    Brooklyn Bridge Tower, New York City
    Brooklyn Bridge Tower
  • The cost of construction of Brooklyn Bridge came to somewhere around $15.5 million.
  • Roebling had not just made a bridge that looked incredibly strong, it also turned out to be just as strong in reality. A mesh of cables of which the four strongest have a diameter of 11 inches are anchored in the ground and keep the bridge from collapsing. But even if the four strongest cables would snap, the other cables would still be sufficient to support the bridge. 
  • Roebling even claimed that the bridge wouldn't collapse without any cables, it would merely sag. But even after the inauguration, many New Yorkers were not convinced the bridge was safe. So as to prove the doubters wrong, P.T. Barnum led a caravan of circus animals - including a herd of 21 elephants - across the bridge in 1884.
  • Approximately 27 people died during the construction of the bridge.
  • On May 30, 1883, six days after the opening, a rumor that the Bridge was going to collapse caused a stampede, which was responsible for at least twelve people being crushed and killed.
  • The first person to jump from the bridge was Robert Emmet Odlum, brother of women's rights activist Charlotte Odlum Smith, on May 19, 1885. He struck the water at an angle and died shortly thereafter from internal injuries. Steve Brodie was the most famous jumper, or self-proclaimed jumper (in 1886). Cartoonist Otto Eppers jumped and survived in 1910, and was then tried and acquitted for attempted suicide.
  • After the collapse in 2007 of the I-35W highway bridge in the city of Minneapolis, increased public attention has been brought to bear on the condition of bridges across the US, and it has been reported that the Brooklyn Bridge approach ramps received a rating of "poor" at its last inspection. According to a NYC Department of Transportation spokesman, "The poor rating it received does not mean it is unsafe. Poor means there are some components that have to be rehabilitated." A $508 million project to replace the approaches began in 2010 and is scheduled to run until 2014. As part of this project, two approach ramps will be widened from one lane to two, and clearance over the Brooklyn Queens Expressway will be increased.
  • Due to the roadway's height (11 ft (3.4 m) posted) and weight (6,000 lb (2,700 kg) posted) restrictions, commercial vehicles and buses are prohibited from using this bridge.
  • Following the 1965, 1977 and 2003 blackouts and most famously after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, the bridge was used by people leaving Manhattan after subway service was suspended. 
  • On March 1, 1994, Lebanese-born Rashid Baz opened fire on a van carrying members of the Chabad-Lubavitch Orthodox Jewish Movement, striking 16-year-old student Ari Halberstam and three others traveling on the bridge. Halberstam died five days later from his wounds. Baz was apparently acting out of revenge for the Hebron massacre of 29 Muslims by Baruch Goldstein that had taken place days earlier on February 25, 1994. Baz was convicted of murder and sentenced to a 141-year prison term. After initially classifying the murder as one committed out of road rage, the Justice Department reclassified the case in 2000 as a terrorist attack. The entrance ramp to the bridge on the Manhattan side was named the Ari Halberstam Memorial Ramp in memory of the victim.
  • In 2003, truck driver Iyman Faris was sentenced to about 20 years in prison for providing material support to Al-Qaeda, after an earlier plot to destroy the bridge by cutting through its support wires with blowtorches was thwarted through information the National Security Agency uncovered through wiretapped phone conversations and interrogation of Al-Qaeda militants.
  • In 2006, a Cold War-era bunker was found by city workers near the East River shoreline of Manhattan's Lower East Side. The bunker, hidden within the masonry anchorage, still contained the emergency supplies that were being stored for a potential nuclear attack by the Soviet Union.
  • On October 1, 2011, more than 700 protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement were arrested while attempting to march across the bridge on the roadway.
  • The bridge has been shown in films such as It Happened in Brooklyn, Once Upon A Time In America, Captive Women, The Fifth Element, Deep Impact, Godzilla, Aftershock: Earthquake in New York, Gangs of New York, I Am Legend, Life After People, Cloverfield, Zombi 2, Oliver & Company, Enchanted, Step Up 3D, Kate & Leopold and The Dark Knight Rises and foreign films such as Awara Paagal Deewana. It is also referenced in the film The French Connection in relation to a car owned by the film's primary villain being confiscated near the bridge.

 Night Panorama of Brooklyn Bridge and Financial sector of Manhattan.
Photo source wikipedia

The Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge ranks as one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century and remains one of New York's most popular and well known landmarks.
The impressive bridge spans the East river between Brooklyn and Manhattan and stretches for a length of 5989 ft, about 1.8 km. The length between the large towers is 1595.5 ft (486 meter). This made the Brooklyn bridge the world's largest suspension bridge from its opening until 1903, and the first steel-wire suspension bridge. 

The most noticeable feature of the Brooklyn Bridge are the two masonry towers to which the many cables are attached. The towers with large gothic arches are 276 ft tall (84 meter), at the time making them some of the tallest landmarks in New York. Roebling claimed that the monumental towers would make the bridge a historic monument. He was proven right when the bridge officially became a national monument in 1964.


View from the pedestrian walkway. The bridge's cable
arrangement forms a distinct weblike pattern.
Photo source wikipedia
An elevated pedestrian path not only gives you the opportunity to cross the river without being bothered by the traffic that rushes past a level below, but it also offers a great view of the bridge's towers as well as downtown Manhattan's skyline. The views alone attract millions of visitors to this bridge each year.



  1. I nearly know I read somewhere that it WAS the tallest structure on Manhattan Island for quite a while after it was completed...

  2. Me again...
    This isn't the article I read, but:

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