Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn Bridge old photos’

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on a zip line

May 23, 2013

EFfarringtonbrooklynbridgeThe Brooklyn Bridge turns 130 years old on May 24. That’s the date the bridge opened to massive crowds and fanfare in 1883.

The story of its amazing construction has been told many times. Yet one small moment during those 13 years deserves a shout-out: the day the bridge was crossed for the first time.

It wasn’t on foot but by rope. The man who took the plunge was E.F. Farrington, the bridge’s “master mechanic.”

In summer 1876, in preparation for building the steel-wire cables, a wire traveler rope was carefully looped around the anchorages built on each side of the river.

On August 25, after the rope had been secured in place, Farrington gave his workers a demo of how they would be getting from one side to the other, reports The Complete History of the New York and Brooklyn Bridge, published in 1883.

“A boatswain’s chair—a board slung at the four corners by ropes uniting in a ring overhead—was attached to the traveler at the Brooklyn anchorage, and Mr. Farrington took his place in it at 1 o’clock p.m. on that day, and was drawn across to New York, his chair being lifted over the towers; the time from anchorage to anchorage, 22 minutes.”


A New York Times article from May 24, 1883 notes that thousands watched Farrington zip-line his way across from Brooklyn to New York:

“The firing of cannon, the blowing of whistles by the river craft, and the shouts of the spectators went up in a vast greeting to the man who sat in the boatswain’s buggy, waving his hat in one hand and clinging to the ropes with the other.”

Men who gave their lives for the Brooklyn Bridge

March 26, 2012

Constructing the Brooklyn Bridge didn’t just claim the lives of up to 30 laborers.

John and Washington Roebling, the father and son engineers in charge of building the bridge, were also casualties.

John Roebling, right, lost his life early on. Named chief engineer and given the go-ahead to start construction in 1867, he died after a freak accident.

While surveying the bridge site at the river’s edge, a ferry boat crushed his toes. They had to be amputated, which led to tetanus. He was dead that July.

Washington Roebling then took over. In 1872, while submerged in a caisson to supervise construction, he suffered decompression sickness—paralyzing him.

Though he was unable to leave his bed in his Brooklyn Heights home, Washington Roebling wasn’t ready to give up his gig as chief engineer.

From his top-floor bedroom at 106 Columbia Heights, he directed daily operations through his wife, Emily, right, who was unofficially in charge until the bridge was completed in 1883.

He could look through binoculars (above illustration) and watch the bridge—the towers, the steel cables, the roadway—go up, just as he’d planned (below photo).

A plaque on the bridge gives big props to Emily, her husband, and her father-in-law. And Roebling Street in Williamsburg also pays them homage.