Brooklyn Bridge

a suspension bridge over the East River, in New York City, connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn: built 1867-84. 5989 ft. (1825 m) long.

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Suspension bridge built (1869–83) over the East River to link Brooklyn to Manhattan island.

It was designed by the cable manufacturer John A. Roebling and his son Washington. A brilliant feat of 19th-century engineering, the bridge was the first to use steel for cable wire and the first in which explosives were used inside a pneumatic caisson during construction. In 1869 John was killed in one of at least 27 fatal construction accidents; his son saw the project to completion. The bridge's main span of 1,595 ft (486 m) was the longest in the world to date. It opened to such fanfare that within 24 hours an estimated quarter-million people crossed over it, using an elevated walkway designed to give pedestrians a dramatic view of the city.

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      suspension bridge spanning the East River from Brooklyn to Manhattan Island, New York City. A brilliant feat of 19th-century engineering, the Brooklyn Bridge was the first bridge to use steel for cable wire, and during its construction explosives were used inside a pneumatic caisson for the first time.

 The masterwork of John Augustus Roebling (Roebling, John Augustus), the Brooklyn Bridge was built (1869–83) in the face of immense difficulties. Roebling died as a result of an accident at the outset, and his son, Washington Roebling (Roebling, Washington Augustus), taking over as chief engineer, suffered a crippling attack of decompression sickness (caisson disease) during the founding of the New York pier (1872). Confined to his apartment in Columbia Heights (Brooklyn), he continued to direct operations, observing with field glasses and sending messages to the site by his wife, Emily Warren Roebling. A compressed-air blast that wrecked a pneumatic caisson slowed the work, as did a severe fire that smoldered for weeks in another caisson, a cable that parted from its anchorage on the Manhattan side and crashed into the river, and the fraud perpetrated by a steel-wire contractor that necessitated the replacement of tons of cable. At least 20 workers were killed during construction, and many more suffered decompression sickness.

      The Brooklyn Bridge's 1,595-foot (486-metre) main span was the longest in the world until the completion of the Firth of Forth (Forth Bridge) cantilever bridge in Scotland in 1890. Its deck, supported by four cables, carries both automobile and pedestrian traffic. A distinctive feature is the broad promenade above the roadway, which John Roebling accurately predicted “in a crowded commercial city will be of incalculable value.”

 The bridge's opening day (May 24, 1883) was marked by much celebration, and the building of it came to represent a landmark in technological achievement for a generation. Its strength and grace inspired poets, notably Walt Whitman, Hart Crane, and Marianne Moore, and a legion of photographers and painters, including Joseph Stella, John Marin, Berenice Abbott, and Alfred Eisenstaedt.

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Universalium. 2010.

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