Brooklyn Bridge

brown concrete bridge near city buildingsThe Brooklyn Bridge is one of the hallmarks of New York. It connects Brooklyn and southern Manhattan overlooking the East River.It is one of the oldest and most recognizable bridges in the United States and has been featured in numerous Hollywood films. Both Americans and tourists from other countries are constantly amazed at the scale of the Brooklyn Bridge and its scenic beauty.

General information about the attraction

The Brooklyn Bridge is a shining symbol of industrial America. Although the bridge was built over 130 years ago, it fully meets modern conditions and requirements. The structure of the building is thought out to the smallest detail.

The three-lane roadway is intended for the movement of both cars – the two outer lanes, and pedestrians, cyclists – they are allocated a lane in the center. For safety reasons, the pedestrian lane is raised a few meters and fenced off with parapets.

Interesting fact! Initially, the bridge was intended for the movement of horse carriages and pedestrians. After the appearance of public transport, trains, trams and trolleybuses were launched here. Subsequently, the movement of public transport was stopped.

The two bridge towers with pointed openings are built in the neo-Gothic style and are often the backdrop for the most beautiful tourist photographs. They take the load-bearing load of the entire structure and are the most massive in the North American continent. The total weight of the two support towers is 180,000 tons .

The roadbed is supported by powerful steel cables attached to the towers. Thanks to them, the structure can withstand a load that is 7 times its own weight. The four main cables are 40 cm thick and each has 5,434 steel strands. The rest of the cables act as safety cables and carry a decorative load, giving the bridge an original look.

Note! In this project, for the first time, cast iron cables were replaced with galvanized steel cables. They were not inferior in strength, but were much lighter.

Since 1980, lights have been on on the bridge in the evening. Thanks to her, the design looks even more beautiful, fabulous and airy.

Construction history

When there was an urgent need to connect the southern outskirts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, the City Hall announced a competition to design the corresponding engineering structure across the East River. Her attention was drawn to the unusual design of the suspension bridge , which was developed by John Roebling. He was a fairly experienced engineer and they believed in his idea, despite the complexity and the need to introduce new technological solutions.

Bridge creators

John Roebling not only did not see the grand opening of the bridge, but was not even able to start building his “brainchild”. In July 1869, six months before the start of the main work, he died of a foot injury and subsequent tetanus.

In 1870, the architect’s son, Washington Roebling, began to build the bridge. But within a few months after the start of construction, he was paralyzed. Washington could no longer direct the construction directly, but watched the progress of the work from a rented apartment on the shore.

Washington passed on his knowledge to his wife – Emily Roebling , who studied bridge building, higher mathematics and strength of materials, comprehending the intricacies of engineering. It was she who communicated with the foremen and workers at the construction site, passed on the information received from her husband to them. This difficult period lasted about 11 years and made Emily Roebling the heroine of such a grandiose project.

The names of John, Washington and Emily Roebling are immortalized on a plaque on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Difficulties of work and incidents

To install support towers in the river, Roebling proposed to lower caissons under water – sealed chambers divided into compartments and filled with compressed air. After cleaning the bottom from silt and soft soil, the caissons were filled with concrete, forming a foundation.

Lack of oxygen, pressure difference under water and on the surface caused the workers clearing the bottom of the river, the so-called decompression sickness. People had joint pains and headaches, nosebleeds, convulsions and vomiting, and paralysis. Several people died.

Often, fires broke out in the caissons, which was facilitated by the presence of dynamite for blasting operations, the simultaneous use of gas lanterns and the supply of compressed air.

Another problem with the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge has to do with steel cables. One of the batches was of poor quality, which was discovered after installation – the rope burst and several workers died. Unfortunately, it was not possible to dismantle the rest of the cables fixed at a height of 87 m. However, the Roeblings incorporated the necessary safety factor into the design. The supplier of steel cables was changed after the incident.

According to various sources, the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn killed between 30 and 150 people.

Brooklyn Bridge in numbers

Brooklyn Bridge in New York impresses with its scale and history of construction.

A few numbers to understand the scope of work, the willpower of its creators and the feat of ordinary workers:

  • in the first day, more than 150,000 people crossed the bridge, the first of which was Emily Roebling;
  • the total length of the structure is 1,825 m, the length of the central span is 486 m;
  • the height of the support towers – 84 m;
  • the bridge is able to withstand the load of 145,000 passing vehicles daily;
  • construction cost – about 15 million dollars, which is quite a lot even today;
  • 13 years have passed from the start of work to the grand opening;
  • the dimensions of the caisson chambers are 43 m long and 27 m wide;
  • the caissons are 1.7 times deeper from the Manhattan side than from the Brooklyn side;
  • the excavators who worked on the bottom of the East River were paid only $ 2 a day;
  • the width of the three-lane roadway – 26 m;
  • total weight of steel cables – 6,740 tons;
  • about 600 people were involved in the construction of the bridge;
  • the height of the roadway above the water surface is 41 m.

In 1964, New York’s Brooklyn Bridge was named a National Historic Site .

Secrets of the Brooklyn Bridge

Under the arches of the Brooklyn Bridge are wine cellars, which were actively used before World War II. The temperature was kept there all year round – 15.5 ℃, which contributed to the excellent preservation of the drinks. During the Prohibition period, the entire New York elite gathered in the cellars, like in a bar.

Another secret of the Brooklyn Bridge towers is a Cold War bomb shelter discovered from the Manhattan side in 2006. It contained an impressive supply of blankets, medicines, and food.

Interestingly, the bridge between Brooklyn and New York was sold many times by the swindler George Parker. Some buyers have seriously tried to claim their rights to the building.

Walking along the Brooklyn Bridge is absolutely free, as well as cycling. From there, there is a beautiful view of the city’s skyscrapers and the water surface of the East River.