A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post about some of the places on my bucket list. V over at Lame Adventures commented that her wanderlust budget would only get her over the Brooklyn Bridge. (Inside NYC joke: the bridge is free!) Although it’s not a local secret, walking over the Brooklyn Bridge is one of my favorite things to do with out-of-town guests. It’s got fantastic views (especially at sunset), good exercise, no lines and iconic landmark all in one. And did I mention, it’s free?
Tomorrow marks the 131st anniversary of the bridge’s grand opening. So, I’ve put together photos I’ve taken over the years and some fun bridge facts. (As if there were any other kind of bridge facts!)
At 1,595 feet (486 meters), it was the world’s longest suspension bridge when it opened in 1883, and remained so until 1903 when the Williamsburg Bridge—just up the river—overtook it by about five feet.
On opening day, more than 150,000 people crossed what was then the only bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn. There were fireworks, the obligatory politicians (including President Chester Arthur and future president, then Governor Grover Cleveland) and marching bands to mark the occasion.
Today the bridge is open only to pedestrians and car traffic, though elevated trains and street cars ran over the bridge until 1944 and 1950 respectively.
The bridge took 14 years and $15 million to complete.
The behind-the-scenes story of how the bridge was built reads every bit like a page-turning novel. German immigrant John Roebling was the original engineer on the project. When he died from a tetanus infection early on, his son, Washington Roebling, a veteran of the Battle of Gettysburg, stepped in. A few years into the construction, the younger Roebling developed cassion disease, also known as the bends, after making a dive in the river to inspect the pylons. He was debilitated and had to oversee the rest of the construction from the window of his apartment a few blocks away. Each day he would give his wife, Emily, instructions on what needed to be done and she would go down to the bridge to relay the message. She had to learn engineering principles and terminology to handle the day-to-day chief engineer’s duties. Imagine a woman in 1870s telling a bunch of burly construction workers what to do.
A new film about the making of the Brooklyn Bridge is in pre-production starring Daniel Radcliffe as Washington Roebling.
Between 17 and 20 pairs of peregrine falcons live in the NYC area, some of which make the Brooklyn Bridge towers their regular nesting site. These amazing birds of prey can cruise at 40 miles per hour and dive bomb up to 200 miles per hour. People walking small dogs across the bridge, take note!
What’s your favorite thing to do when you have guests in town?
Have a great weekend, everyone!