Brooklyn Bridge (1883) New York, New York, USA
The Brooklyn Bridge spans the East River in New York City connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Completed in 1883 it is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States and the first constructed using steel wire. With an overall length of 1,825m (5,989 ft) and with a main span of 486m (1,595 ft), it was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1903.
First known as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge and as the East River Bridge it was commonly referred to as the Brooklyn Bridge and this became its formal name in 1915. One of the most instantly recognisable images of New York City it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964.
Plans for a crossing between the cities of Brooklyn and New York, then consisting only of Manhattan, dated back to the early 1800’s. New York had twice as many residents as the more rural Brooklyn and the bridge was seen as a means of relieving overcrowding in Manhattan and promoting development in Brooklyn.
In 1855, John Roebling proposed a suspension bridge over the East River to replace the Atlantic Avenue-Fulton Street Ferry. Roebling was a noted bridge designer but his proposal did not impress the New York and Brooklyn city governments. Undeterred he enlisted the support of influential businessmen and politicians and in 1867 the New York Bridge Company was formed to construct and maintain a bridge on the East River. Brooklyn City would contribute $3 million and New York $1.5 million towards towards the cost.
Construction began in January 1870 and the lengthy and complex operation took 13 years to complete. Shortly before construction began John Roebling suffered a serious foot injury from which he contracted tetanus and died. His son, Washington Roebling, took over the project but he too suffered a paralysing injury shortly after construction begun. Unable to attend site himself he relayed daily instructions to his engineers through his wife, Emily.
The Brooklyn Bridge opened on 23rd May 1883 having cost $15.1 million, more than twice the original estimate. On that day 1,800 vehicles crossed the bridge, considerably less than the modern estimate of approx. 140,000 cars, pedestrians and cyclists that now use it each day.