First Suspension Bridge Across the East River
"I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights
--from Hart Crane's The Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge was designed by JOHN AUGUSTUS ROEBLING and built largely by German, Irish and
Italian laborers. When completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension
bridge in the world until the construction of another East River bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge, in 1903. The bridge spans the East River and connects Manhattan to Brooklyn. Mr. Roebling died during the bridge’s 13-year
construction period. His son,
Washington, took over but became ill and viewed the completion of the bridge
from his Brooklyn apartment in Columbia
Roebling, the wife of John, was the first person to walk across the
bridge on opening day. P.T. Barnum also led 21 of his circus elephants
across the bridge partially to illustrate the safety of the structure
to the public.
The bridge is considered to be one of the seven industrial wonders of the modern world and has inspired artists such as Walt
Whitman and Hart Crane's poem, “The
Bridge." Crane actually wrote part of his poem in the same apartment
and same room where the bridge's builder, John Augustus Roebling, once
lived. For an exciting read, see The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the
Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough. As a young man, author Frank Harris (My Life and Loves) worked as a sandhog on the Brooklyn Bridge.
The steel-wire cables and one of
the Brooklyn Bridge’s twin masonry support towers (photo 3) are photographed up-close on top of the bridge.
Each steel cable wire is composed of “3,515 miles of wire, galvanized
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