Why Did They Build the Brooklyn Bridge?

Brooklyn Bridge

The history of the Brooklyn Bridge is more than an example of the engineering skills of people. It’s also a story of determination, of how they were able to overcome any struggles and early obstacles.


The idea of building a suspension bridge was proposed in 1857. That year the proposal to create one was sent to Congress. The goal was to construct it just over the East River. The plan was to extend it all the way to Brooklyn.

However it was only in 1866 when the plans were officially given to John Roebling and Wilhelm Hildenbrand. The Congress approved of their plans. Two years later the New York Bridge Company was created and the history of the Brooklyn Bridge would properly commence. In 1869 the plan was sent to President Ulysses Grant, who approved it.


In 1869 John Roebling suffered a fatal accident. He was supervising the site to determine where it should be built. His legs were injured and he died from infections related to it. His son Washington was left in charge. It was under his watch in 1870 that the construction started.

A couple of years later in 1872, Washington fell victim to caisson disease. This kept him away from the construction site. However he was still able to direct the work at home. He would give the instructions to his wife, who would relay it to the engineers and other workers.

The history of the Brooklyn Bridge would never be the same. Emily Roebling would learn the facts about mathematics and constructing bridges, and this would help in the making of the bridge. In 1874 the tower was finally completed. A temporary footbridge was added in 1877. It was also that year when a furor erupted over the wiring arose.


The bridge was opened in 1883 to the public to great success. Over 500,000 people and 1,500 vehicles attended the event including the President and New York City officials. The day was accompanied by fireworks, gun salutes and music.

A week later, wild rumors began spreading that it was to going to give way. This resulted in a panic that ended up killing a dozen people. one of the worst in the history of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Facts and Figures

The bridge is over 5,989 feet long. The longest span is 1,600 feet. It is about 85 feet wide. Through the years it has served several purposes. It currently has six lanes made for motor vehicles. It also has a separate section for the pedestrians. The entryways are found at the Adams and Tilary Streets.

There is also one at Sands Street and Exit 28B. The bridge is also accessible from FDR Drive in Manhattan. Those on Park Row and in Frankfort Street can also reach the bridge.

The history of the Brooklyn Bridge is an example of the determination of people to overcome the odds. At the time of its construction it was considered an impossible task. There were obstacles, but through determination, they were able to pull it off.

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