Take a walk above the traffic on the bridge's dedicated pedestrian walkway: for the most scenic views, start in Brooklyn and walk to Manhattan. You'll have a direct view towards the famous Manhattan skyline the entire way.
Linking Manhattan to Brooklyn across the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge was the first steel-wire suspension bridge in the world. Since its opening in 1883 it has been a proud icon of New York City, and it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964.
Its construction was a remarkable feat, and caused more than its fair share of tragedy along the way. The bridge was designed by civil engineer John Augustus Roebling. While surveying the site for the bridge, his foot was crushed when a ferry pinned it against a piling. After his toes were amputated he developed a tetanus infection which swiftly resulted in his death, not long after he had placed his 32-year-old son Washington Roebling in charge.
Washington built the bridge's two towers by floating a pair of huge inverted wooden boxes called caissons on the East River: the stone towers were gradually built on top of them until they sank to the riverbed. Compressed air was then pumped into the caissons, and workers entered the space to dig away the sediment until the caissons sank to the bedrock. The weight of the bridge still rests today upon 15 feet of southern yellow pine wood beneath the sediment.
During this process many workers began to suffer from decompression sickness (commonly called 'the bends'); Washington himself suffered a paralysing injury due to the sickness, and was confined to his apartment for the next 11 years of the project. In a remarkable partnership, he directed the engineers through his wife Emily, who developed an accomplished knowledge of high-level mathematics and engineering. Before the official opening, Emily was the first person to cross the bridge by carriage. She carried a rooster as a sign of victory.
The bridge's anchorages were built to incorporate a number of passageways and compartments; the city rented out the large vaults at the Manhattan end to help fund the bridge's construction, some of which were used to store wine as they were always at a stable 16 °C. When New York magazine visited one of these cellars in 1978 over a century later, it discovered a 'fading inscription' on the wall: 'Who loveth not wine, women and song, he remaineth a fool his whole life long.'
At its completion, the bridge became a symbol of the optimism of the new century, causing marvel at the achievements of modern technology. It continues today as a beacon of strength and unity in the Big Apple - and offers fantastic views as you walk, drive, or cycle its length.
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