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New York’s Famed Brooklyn Bridge Opens on this Day in 1883

  • VOA News

Pedestrians stroll along the promenade of the Brooklyn Bridge, connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York City, 1891.

On May 24 in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge opened, connecting two of New York City's five boroughs — Manhattan and Brooklyn — for the first time in history.

The iconic steel-suspension bridge spanned 486.3 meters (1,595 feet) over New York’s East River, thanks to the pioneering work of German designer John Roebling.

At the time, it was the largest suspension bridge ever built. It also was the safest due to Roebling’s technological breakthrough: a web truss built on each side of the roadway along the bridge, which added a much higher level of stability to the structure.

Just before construction began in 1869, Roebling was fatally injured when a boat crashed into one of his feet as he recorded a few final compass readings across the East River. Three weeks later he died of tetanus. Roebling was the first of a total of 27 people to die building the famed bridge.

More recently, the bridge, which initially took 14 years to build, has been under reconstruction and has become more and more friendly to pedestrian use.

It was honored as a National Historic Landmark in 1964, and in 1972 as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

In this Sept. 10, 2014 file photo, the Tribute in Light rises behind the Brooklyn Bridge and buildings adjacent to the World Trade Center complex in New York.
In this Sept. 10, 2014 file photo, the Tribute in Light rises behind the Brooklyn Bridge and buildings adjacent to the World Trade Center complex in New York.

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