Posts Tagged ‘East River Bridge’

Let the Brooklyn Bridge show you the way

June 8, 2020

The Brooklyn Bridge (or the East River Bridge, as this 1920 postcard charmingly calls it) is many things.

It’s a display of engineering might, a graceful web of wire over water, a symbol of New York’s unity, the embodiment of promise and possibility. Let it be a source of inspiration during this time when our city has been tested.

[MCNY F2011.33.1882]

The never-built East River bridge at 77th Street

June 2, 2016

As the Brooklyn Bridge began rising to the south in the 1870s, plans for a second bridge linking Manhattan to Long Island were getting off the ground.

Eastriverbridge77thst1877nypl

“The projectors of this proposed bridge over the East River, between New York and Brooklyn at 77th Street, by way of Blackwell’s Island, have, in response to the invitation sent out, received ten separate designs and estimates from as many engineers,” an 1877 newspaper story stated.

“Ground will be broken as soon as a plan shall be decided on.”

Eastriverbridgearticle1881Of course, there is no East 77th Street bridge (and Queens is just across the East River, not Brooklyn).

So why didn’t the project go forward?

It started to, tentatively. In 1881, a caisson was sunk into the river on the Queens side, off the outpost of Ravenswood, according to the Greater Astoria Historical Society’s The Queensboro Bridge.

But it was the future Brooklyn Bridge that captured New York’s fancy.

With less money and interest, the company chartered to build a bridge to Queens put a stop to construction.

EastriverbridgethumbnailAlmost two decades after the Brooklyn Bridge opened, and only a few years since Brooklyn and Queens became part of greater New York City, plans for a bridge were drawn up again . . . resulting in the graceful cantilever span known as the Queensboro Bridge in 1909.

New York is a bridge proposal graveyard, as these images of other bridges never built attest.

[Top photo: NYPL; second image: Arkansas City Weekly Traveler; third image: Greater Astoria Historical Society]

 

A vintage view of the new “East River Bridge”

December 9, 2013

By the time it opened in 1903, the Williamsburg Bridge had its name. The postcard, stamped 1912, must predate it—hence the East River Bridge moniker.

Eastriverbridgepostcard

We must be looking toward Brooklyn; that appears to be the domed Williamsburgh Savings Bank building far off in the distance, with a couple of lonely tenements huddled by the waterfront on the Manhattan side.

The postcard carries this message, to an address in Massachusetts:

“152 South Eighth Street, Brooklyn NY—Dear Bennie, today is the first day of spring. Snowing all day here. Pa.”

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.

The East River “great suspension bridge” opens

May 22, 2010

May 24 marks the 127th anniversary of the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, celebrated in 1883 with a “grand display of fireworks and illuminations” according to this newspaper account.

The Brooklyn Bridge was hailed as an engineering marvel; schools closed for the day as politicians gave speeches and thousands of pedestrians were charged one cent to cross it.

But the festivities didn’t last. A few days later, after a staircase gave way, tragedy struck and 12 pedestrians were killed.