New York, New York Guide (B): Brooklyn

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

The history of bridge building in the world has always been characterized by the quest for better design and strength. The Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, opened in 1883, was the first suspension bridge to use steel wire cables instead of iron. Sailors accustomed to high rigging were hired to string the 1,500 suspenders for the deck.

The risk above the bridge was matched by the danger below. To build the two giant stone towers, timber caissons were sunk deep into the riverbed and filled with concrete by crews of men in air-locked dungeons. Digging until they reached bedrock, some of the workers (dubbed “sand hogs”) were ultimately afflicted by decompression sickness, the same hazard risked by deep-water divers when rising to the surface too quickly. The condition disabled Brooklyn’s engineer, Washington A. Roebling, resulting in the completion of the work by proxy through his wife Emily, also a trained engineer. All told, at least 20 people lost their lives in the 14 years it took to build the Brooklyn Bridge.

Abutment: Part of the substructure of a bridge that holds up each end
Pier: A support between the abutments
Caisson: A filled metal tube that acts as a pier
Span: A section of the bridge between the piers and abutments
Skew: An angled bridge
Deck: Bridge surface that carries traffic
Truss: Triangular framework often constructed of metal
Plaque: A decorative label placed on a bridge to identify ...... (follow the instructions below for accessing the rest of this article).
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Sights Map

Guide Name: Brooklyn
Guide Location: USA » New York
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (B))
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Brooklyn Bridge   East River   Brooklyn  
Author: Valerie Paterson
Read it on author's website:

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