The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest and most recognizable suspension bridges in the United States.
Here are the facts you ought to know:
- completed and opened on May 24th, 1883 (took over 13 years to build)
- at the time it opened, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world
- connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River
- initially designed by German immigrant John Augustus Roebling
- architectural style is neo-Gothic
- total lenghth 5,989 feet (1825 m)
- width: 85 feet (25 m)
- height: 276.5 ft (84.3 m)
- clearance below: 135 feet (41 m)
- about 150,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily
The bridge cost about $15.5 million to build and an estimated number of 27 people died during its construction.
On May 30, 1883, six days after the opening, a rumor that the Bridge was going to collapse caused a stampede, which was responsible for at least twelve people being crushed and killed. On May 17, 1884, P. T. Barnum helped to squelch doubts about the bridge’s stability, when one of his most famous circus attractions, Jumbo, led a parade of 21 elephants over the Brooklyn Bridge.
The bridge was built with numerous passageways and compartments in its anchorage. One compartment on the Manhattan side was famously used to store champagne and wine for a local dealer because of the consistent temperatures the space provided.
The bridge originally carried horse-drawn and rail traffic, with a separate elevated walkway along the centerline for pedestrians and bicycles. Since 1950, the main roadway has carried six lanes of automobile traffic. Due to the roadway’s height and weight restrictions, commercial vehicles and buses are prohibited from using this bridge.
“Love locks” is a practice by which a couple inscribe a date and their initials onto a lock, attach it to the bridge and throw the key into the water as a sign of their “everlasting love”. It has reportedly caused damage to certain bridges, and is officially against New York city rules. The love locks are occasionally removed from the Brooklyn Bridge
In 2003, truck driver Iyman Faris was sentenced to about 20 years in prison for providing material support to Al-Qaeda, after an earlier plot to destroy the bridge by cutting through its support wires with blowtorches was thwarted through information the National Security Agency uncovered through wiretapped phone conversations and interrogation of Al-Qaeda militants.
The Brooklyn Bridge was “sold” several times by George Parker – one of the most audacious con men in American history, who made his living selling New York landmarks to unwary immigrants and tourists – hence the expression: “If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you”. Other landmarks sold by Parker included the original Madison Square Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grant’s Tomb and the Statue of Liberty. Parker was convicted of fraud three times and ultimately sentenced to a life term at Sing Sing Prison.
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