Not long after the Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883, people began jumping off it.
Some were daredevils, some were suicidal. And some simply wanted publicity and to make a little cash, which seems to be the case with 17-year-old Otto Eppers.
In June 1910, Eppers lived at 535 Dean Street in Brooklyn. He was a budding cartoonist, later described by The New York Times as “ferret faced” (that’s him at right, in 1917).
Eppers apparently convinced storekeepers in Brooklyn to give him more than a thousand bucks (plus two new suits!) if he leaped off the Manhattan Bridge.
The notoriety and money would kick-start his career, he reportedly believed.
The morning of the jump, on June 29, his plan was briefly thwarted by patrolmen stationed along the bridge.
So he went to the Brooklyn Bridge instead, climbing the tower on the Brooklyn side before letting go and dropping 14 stories into the river.
A tugboat waiting for him picked up Eppers, whose clothes had ripped but was unhurt. As soon as the boat reached Manhattan’s Fulton Street, he was arrested on charges of attempted suicide—then let go with a warning.
It’s unclear whether he got his money. But he scored a brush with fame.
Eppers is credited with the first witnessed successful jump from the Brooklyn Bridge—and he did make a name for himself as a professional cartoonist.