Brooklyn Bridge – New York City Landmark
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I think there are some old landmarks that we fall in love with as much for the idea as the physical architecture. Granted, the Brooklyn Bridge is a great piece of architecture. Everything I’ve read suggests that it was way over-engineered but it was built to last the ages. Would New York City be the same without those beautiful Gothic arches on the towers that help support the span of the Brooklyn bridge over the East River?
But I think the bridge represents more the story of America than anything. Its construction is the story of overcoming the odds to accomplish what was thought impossible by many at the time. Not only was it a physical feat of engineering prowess, there were people who actively tried to prevent the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge. Largely these were people whose livelihood was related to the ferries that operated between Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Construction on the Brooklyn Bridge began in 1870 and it wasn’t opened until 1883. In the span of those years, supervision of construction passed from father to son and then to the son’s wife. John Augustus Roebling suffered an injury that led to an amputation and then a tetanus infection. As his foot was damaged in a ferry accident, some have suggested it was intentional. His son, Washington Roebling, would carry on for only a short time before being paralyzed by decompression sickness related to the construction of the great towers. For the rest of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, he and his wife, Emily, did the work together. Washington watched from his window overlooking the East River with Emily on-site.
When it was finally completed against the odds, the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1903 when the nearby Williamsburg bridge surpassed it. I heard that story over and over during my stay in NYC which proves to me that the Brooklyn Bridge is as much a story as a physical landmark!
Have you walked across that beautiful bridge? Seen it from Brooklyn with the Manhattan skyline as a brilliant backdrop? Or perhaps you simply love the awesome architecture from afar? I hope you’ll take a second to stop and share what speaks to you most in this New York City landmark art?