Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Iconic Brooklyn Bridge

This magnificent bridge still rises over the East River in New York City because its designer, Augustus Roebling, had the foresight to make it 6-times stronger * than was considered necessary 146 years ago.

Work began on the bridge in January of 1870. It wasn’t completed until 13 years later in May of 1883.

The bridge’s two distinct towers reflect the neo-Gothic style. At the time it was the largest suspension bridge in the world.
John Augustus Roebling
Before construction began Roebling’s foot was crushed while he surveyed the site. His toes had to be amputated, which resulted in an infection that took his life.

His 32-year old son, Washington Roebling took over. He, like his father, was injured on the site. 
The underwater work on the two towers was accomplished by floating two caissons—two giant boxes where compressed air was pumped in.

Emily and Washington Roebling

Many workers became ill with “the bends” while working in these two boxes. Washington Roebling was one of these victims. Shortly after construction began, he experienced a paralyzing injury from decompression sickness.

Workers inside a caisson air-lock box during construction.
After this, he was confined to an apartment that had a view of the site. His wife Emily, who had studied Mathematics became an expert when it came to the “strength of materials.”

From New York side
during construction.

She for the next 11 years conveyed her husband’s wishes to the engineers on-site and supervised and exerted a daily influence over the work.

In all, 27 workers lost their lives during this construction.

During construction of the bridge.

The opening ceremonies for the bridge were held on May 24, 1883. Thousands of people attended to celebrate what was then called the New York and Brooklyn Bridge.

This bridge provided a land passage between Brooklyn and Manhattan. Before its completion, the only way for commuters to get between these two boroughs were overcrowded and unreliable ferries.

Six days after the opening ceremonies, a rumor spread the bridge was about to collapse. This caused a stampede where 12 people were trampled to death.

The bridge was viewed with a suspicious eye after this. It wasn’t until almost a year later on May 17, 1884, when P. T. Barnum inadvertently squelched the belief that the bridge was unstable.

To announce the arrival of his famous circus, he paraded his most popular attraction Jumbo, along with 21 other elephants across the Brooklyn Bridge.

This bridge today is a treasured landmark. Renovations began on it in 2010, which took four years, and cost $508 million. The bridge's classical architecture today is highlighted at night with floodlights.

* Inferior wire or cable was shipped, necessitating 250 additional cables being used—so the bridge is actually 4 times stronger—but this worked, for many suspension bridges of the time collapsed—not having been designed to withstand or “give” to wind forces.

Another interesting fact about the Brooklyn Bridge is that it is haunted. Some of the activity that has been reported is downright creepy.

Many people escaped
Manhattan by walking
across the Brooklyn Bridge
on 9/11.
Hundreds of thousands of people have walked across this bridge in its history. Many have reported unusual sights and sounds.

A common occurrence is people calling the police to report “jumpers.” They all heard the sounds of screams and splashing water below them. Thinking it must be a suicide attempt, they called the authorities.

But when the police arrived, no one was in the water. Some believe what these witnesses actually heard are the sounds of the people being trampled after the stampede.

But this does not explain the sounds of splashing water. They might be instead connected to the many suicides that have taken place at the bridge.

Another common sight, at night, is dark figures or shadow people walking in front of people as they cross the bridge. These figures are sometimes seen floating mid-air, and then they disappear around corners or just vanish in front of witnesses.

By far, the most compelling sight is of a man who has no head. This figure has been seen countless times and is said to wander the bridge.
New York Times article
about accident.
There is documented evidence to back up these reports. Two of the 27 men who lost their lives during construction were riggers that had the misfortune to be standing in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

One of the heavy cables snapped and whipped out where it killed both men. One of the two had his head sliced right off.
Depiction of the accident.

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