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History of Brooklyn Bridge in 60 Seconds

Picture of Lily Niu
Updated: 25 May 2017
Linking the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn across the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge is a magnificent sight to behold. Even older than the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883 and its status as one of New York’s most prominent architectural feats remains recognised globally.

As the first roadway to connect the cities of Brooklyn and New York, the Brooklyn Bridge is acknowledged for joining the smaller neighbourhood of Brooklyn to New York as a borough in 1898. Today, the Brooklyn Bridge carries approximately 150,000 pedestrians and vehicles every day.

Featuring a distinctive design which sets it apart from its surroundings, the Brooklyn Bridge’s Gothic towers are a majestic sight to behold. Its claim to fame as the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge is also significant.

Initially intended by engineer John A. Roebling as a way to ease the commute for workers travelling from Brooklyn to Manhattan each day, there were challenges in getting the project off the ground, literally. Funding for the bridge was hard to come by but Roebling’s dream of building the bridge became a reality thanks to political kingpin William “Boss” Tweed’s funneling of $65,000 in bribes to city aldermen.

Roebling never did get to see the completed bridge however, as he died from tetanus resulting from a foot injury sustained from a passing ferry while taking measurements along the riverbed in 1869. His son, Washington Roebling, had equally bad luck after he began heading the project; he was confined to bed by “caisson disease”, decompression sickness, as a result of working in sealed chambers keeping the riverbed dry. Ultimately, it was Washington’s wife Emily Roebling who took the project by the helm and oversaw the bridge’s design and construction until completion.

Places to get the best view of the Brooklyn Bridge are the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and Pier 1 or Main Street at Brooklyn Bridge Park. In Manhattan, the view can best be enjoyed from Pier 15 by South Street Seaport.