New York Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most popular sightseeing attractions within New York City. It was first constructed in 1883, making it nearly the longest standing suspension bridge in the US. The Brooklyn Bridge allows commuters to cross the East River, and is well over 1,500 feet in length. For over twenty years it stood as the longest suspension bridge ever constructed before its title was eclipsed in 1903.
Originally the iconic landmark was designed by a German immigrant named John Augustus Roebling. He had spent his life designing suspension bridges, but at that point in time had never designed anything as large or important as the Brooklyn Bridge. Although his original design was used as the basis for the project, while conducting surveys for the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, his foot was crushed between a ferry and a pylon. He was forced to have his toes amputated and eventually developed tetanus, which would eventually cause his death. In the wake of his death, his son, Washington Roebling was placed in charge of the project.
Unfortunately for Washington, during construction he too would experience complications after developing decompression sickness. The condition left him unable to be on-site, and all of the instructions had to be delivered to the managers at the construction site by his wife.
Construction on the bridge was not finished until May 24, 1883. Thousands of New Yorkers attended the opening ceremony, and the East Bay was filled with boats. The President at the time, Chester A. Arthur took part in the opening ceremony and crossed the bridge alongside the Mayor of New York, Franklin Edson amid cannon fire to celebrate the occasion.
Today the Brooklyn Bridge is a very popular sightseeing attraction and is an integral part of transportation in the city. Even today it still stands as the most effective way to travel from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
Following the events of September 11th, the bridge was used as a way to leave the city after the subway system was shut down in fear of more attacks. The huge number of people crossing the bridge was something that the original designer had never anticipated, but luckily Washington Roebling had redesigned aspects of the bridge, adding a number of support systems for just an event.
The cultural significance of the Brooklyn Bridge is hard to measure. Although the bridge seems to be commonplace in the minds of most Americans today, at one point the bridge was considered to be one of the greatest successes in American culture. Construction had taken many years, and the designers had to deal with many unanticipated problems throughout the construction process. Even today the bridge is the most underappreciated sightseeing landmark in New York City, and is an integral part of everyday life for many who live there. After celebrating the bridge’s 125th anniversary over a 5 day period in 2008, it is clear that the Brooklyn Bridge is still well alive in the hearts and minds of Americans across the nation.