Brooklyn Bridge

sights / Architecture

Brooklyn Bridge information

New York City , USA
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A New York icon, the Brooklyn Bridge was the world’s first steel suspension bridge. When it opened in 1883, the 1596ft span between its two support towers was the longest in history. Although its construction was fraught with disaster, the bridge became a magnificent example of urban design, inspiring poets, writers and painters. Today, the Brooklyn Bridge continues to dazzle – many regard it as the most beautiful bridge in the world.

The Prussian-born engineer John Roebling, who was knocked off a pier in Fulton Landing in June 1869, designed the bridge, which spans the East River from Manhattan to Brooklyn; he died of tetanus poisoning before construction of the bridge even began. His son, Washington Roebling, supervised construction of the bridge, which lasted 14 years and managed to survive budget overruns and the deaths of 20 workers. The younger Roebling himself suffered from the bends while helping to excavate the riverbed for the bridge’s western tower and remained bedridden for much of the project; his wife Emily oversaw construction in his stead. There was one final tragedy to come in June 1883, when the bridge opened to pedestrian traffic. Someone in the crowd shouted, perhaps as a joke, that the bridge was collapsing into the river, setting off a mad rush in which 12 people were trampled to death.

The bridge entered its second century as strong and beautiful as ever following an extensive renovation in the early 1980s. The pedestrian walkway that begins just east of City Hall affords a wonderful view of lower Manhattan; observation points under the support towers offer brass ‘panorama’ histories of the waterfront. Just take care to stay on the side of the walkway marked for folks on foot – one half is designated for cyclists, who use it en masse for both commuting and pleasure rides, and frustrated pedalers have been known to get nasty with oblivious tourists who wander, camera pressed to an eye, into the bike lane. Barring any such run-ins, you should reach Brooklyn after about a 20-minute walk. Bear left to Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park or Cadman Plaza West, which runs alongside Middagh St in the heart of Brooklyn Heights, taking you to Brooklyn’s downtown area; Don't miss the ornate Brooklyn Borough Hall and the Brooklyn Heights promenade.