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Monday, August 22, 2016

Historical Spotlight: Brooklyn Bridge

Back in mid-June my husband and I went to New York City for the weekend. You might remember my previous posts spotlighting Coney Island and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Today I am going to share the last of the major stops on our trip and a little history to go along with it – the Brooklyn Bridge.

For most people, the Brooklyn Bridge is just one method to get from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back again, it had always been the only way that I thought of the bridge too. I didn’t even realize that you could walk across it until recently, but once I did I thought it would be kind of cool to do, just to say that we did it. So, we decided to walk the bridge from the Brooklyn side to Manhattan and it was quite an enjoyable experience – and there were a bunch of other people doing it too. It is busy for sure just like anything in New York, but it was quirky too – we actually saw a couple having their wedding portraits taken on the bridge and traffic just surged around them. It also gives a great view of the Statue of Liberty in the distance, the new World Trade Center building, and the Williamsburg Bridge. We also participated in a tradition that I didn’t know existed anywhere other than France, placing a lock on the bridge and dropping the key into the river. Well, I was in a conundrum trying to figure out how I was going to get my key to the water. It was far too great a distance to throw it across several lanes of traffic and it looked like I wouldn’t get near the water easily once we crossed the bridge – but guess what? Over a certain part of the bridge if you look down between the wooden slats, it goes all the way down to the water. So I crouched down and dropped it between the slats and watched it helicopter its way down to a tiny splash! The great thing about taking the time to cross the Brooklyn Bridge is that it is completely free! You could rent a bike and ride across or sign up for a walking tour, but it’s 100% free to do on your own.

Views of the Brooklyn Bridge
Photo Credit: Me!
Anyway, that’s enough of my story, here are some random but interesting facts I learned about the bridge:

  • The original designer died before the bridge could be built, but it was such a freak accident. Apparently he was taking some final measurements and hit feet were struck by a boat. From there he caught tetanus and died!
  • The son of the original designer I was just mentioning – ended up having such terrible side effects from traveling up and down the shafts for the foundation of the bridge that he ended up being partially paralyzed from it and his wife had to take over the day to day oversight!
  • The walking bridge that we crossed – well it was originally designed for just that, pedestrians. And on the first day it was opened over 200,000 people walked across it!

*Fun Facts compiled from History.com*

Want to Learn More?

I again have to point you toward The Bowery Boys podcast for a lot more in-depth info that I’m presenting here. There are also a couple of books that look really fascinating: The Great Bridge by David McCullough is a non-fiction treatment; there is a YA historical novel by Karen Hesse that takes place around the bridge titled Brooklyn Bridge, and a hilarious children’s book titled You Wouldn’t Want to Work on the Brooklyn Bridge! by Tom Ratliff. I know the McCullough is on my TBR.

Have you walked the Brooklyn Bridge? What was your experience like?


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