Eighth Wonder of The World
May 24, 1883, Brooklyn Bridge opens after 14 years under construction and 27 deaths,
connecting the cities of New York and Brooklyn for the first time in history. Thousands of Brooklyn and Manhattan Island residents turned out to witness the dedication ceremony presided over by the United States President Chester A. Arthur and New York State Governor Grover Cleveland.
The bridge was the design of the late John a. Roebling and is the largest suspension bridge
ever built to date. Roebling was born in Germany in 1806, studied industrial engineering in Berlin and when age 25 immigrated to western Pennsylvania where he became an unsuccessful farmer and later moved to Harrisburg where he took the job of a civil engineer who promoted the use of wire cable and soon established a successful wire cable manufacturing business.
He earned a reputation of being 'the' designer of suspension bridges which have become widely in use but were known to fail to high winds and overloading. Roebling is credited with the technology , a stabilizing truss, which did indeed stabilize the whole structure. This idea was used to build bridges at Niagara Falls and Cincinnati.
The state of New York awarded Roebling the contract to design and construct the 1595 foot bridge to connect Brooklyn and Manhattan but just prior to the start of construction, in 1869 , while taking a few final compass readings across the East River a boat mishap smashed one of his feet and within three weeks, he died of tetanus and became more than two dozen people who would die building his bridge.
Roebling's 32 year old son, Washington A. Roebling, took over as chief engineer since he had helped his father design the Brooklyn Bridge and assisted with several bridge construction jobs.
The two granite foundations of the Brooklyn Bridge were built in timber caissons sunk in 44 feet of water on the Brooklyn side and on the New york side, in 78 feet of water, and were pressurized with compressed air, allowing underwater construction. At that time very little was known about the risk of working under such conditions. Hundred of workers suffered Compression sickness or 'bends', and several had died. Washington Roebling was one himself and in 1872 became bedridden from the condition.
However, Roebling continued to direct operations from his bedside at home, his wife, Emily, would carry his instructions to the workers. During 1877, Washington and Emily, moved to a home with a view of the bridge.
Washington Roebling gradually improved but he remained partially paralyzed for life.
On May 24, 1883, Emily Roebling, carring a symbol of victory, a rooster, in her lap, was given the first ride over the completed bridge. Within the next 24 hours , more than 250,000 people walked across the Brooklyn Bridge on the broad promenade above the roadway, designed by John Roebling, solely for the enjoyment of pedestrians.
Abstract: Harrison Howeth, 2017: www.history.com/this day in history, brooklyn bridge/24 May 1883