Bridge For Sale?—First Place 2019
May 24, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was dedicated by President Chester A. Arthur and New York Governor Grover Cleveland. It took 14 and 27 fatalities to build the pedestrian bridge over the East River to connect the cities of Brooklyn and New York.
Upon completion, the Brooklyn Bridge was at that time the largest suspension bridge ever built. John Roebling, who designed the bridge, pioneered the design and construction of suspension bridges, and is credited with a major innovation in suspension bridge technology. In his bridge designs, he added a web truss at each end of the roadway, which significantly stabilized the structure. Previous suspension bridges often failed in strong winds or when under heavy load.
In 1869, while Roebling took final compass readings across the East River, a boat smashed his toes on one foot. Three weeks later he died of tetanus. His 32 year old son, Washington A. Roebling, took over as chief engineer.
Watertight chambers were sunk into the East River, and compressed air pressurized the chambers allowing underwater construction. Unfortunately, little was know about the risks involved in working under such conditions. More than a hundred workers suffered compression sickness—the “bends”. Compression sickness is caused by nitrogen bubbles in the bloodstream when there is rapid decompression. Washington, after spending time in the underwater chamber, became bedridden in 1872 as the result of the bends. From then on, his wife, Emily, carried daily instructions to the workers as he watched work continue from his bedroom window.
George C. Parker, who is known as America’s Greatest Con Man, sold the Brooklyn Bridge twice a week for 30 years. Police often had to stop the “new owners” for putting up toll booths on the bridge.