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The Brooklyn Bridge is a hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge in New York City. It connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, spanning the East River. The Brooklyn Bridge has a main span of 1,595.5 feet (486.3 m) and a height of 133 ft (40.5 m) above mean high water. It is one of the oldest roadway bridges in the United States and was the world's first steel-wire suspension bridge, as well as the first fixed crossing across the East River.

Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge Postdlf.jpg
Seen from Manhattan in 2005
Coordinates40°42′22″N 73°59′49″W / 40.706°N 73.997°W / 40.706; -73.997Coordinates: 40°42′22″N 73°59′49″W / 40.706°N 73.997°W / 40.706; -73.997
Carries6 lanes of roadway (cars only)
Elevated trains (until 1944)
Streetcars (until 1950)
Pedestrians and bicycles
CrossesEast River
LocaleNew York City (Civic Center, Manhattan – Dumbo/Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn)
Maintained byNew York City Department of Transportation
ID number22400119[1]
DesignSuspension/Cable-stay Hybrid
Total length6,016 ft (1,833.7 m)[2]
Width85 ft (25.9 m)
Height272 ft (82.9 m) (towers)[3]
Longest span1,595.5 ft (486.3 m)
Clearance below133 ft (40.5 m) above mean high water[2][3]
DesignerJohn Augustus Roebling
OpenedMay 24, 1883; 136 years ago (1883-05-24)[4]
Daily traffic105,679 (2016)[5]
TollFree both ways
Brooklyn Bridge
Pont de Brooklyn de nuit - Octobre 2008 edit.jpg
Architectural styleneo-Gothic
NRHP reference #66000523
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 15, 1966[6]
Designated NHLJanuary 29, 1964[7]
Designated NYCLAugust 24, 1967[2]
Location within New York City

The Brooklyn Bridge started construction in 1869 and was completed fourteen years later in 1883. It was originally called the New York and Brooklyn Bridge and the East River Bridge, but it was later dubbed the Brooklyn Bridge, a name coming from an earlier January 25, 1867 letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle[8] and formally so named by the city government in 1915. Over the years, the Brooklyn Bridge has undergone several reconfigurations; it formerly carried horse-drawn vehicles and elevated railway lines, but now carries vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic. Commercial vehicles are banned from the bridge.

Since opening, the Brooklyn Bridge has become an icon of New York City, ranking among the city's most popular tourist attractions. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964[7][9][10] and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1972.[11]


Description Edit

Although the Brooklyn Bridge is technically a suspension bridge, it uses a hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge design.[12] The architectural style is neo-Gothic, with characteristic pointed arches above the passageways through the stone towers. The paint scheme of the bridge is "Brooklyn Bridge Tan" and "Silver", although it has been argued that the original paint was "Rawlins Red".[13]


Including approaches, the Brooklyn Bridge is a total of 6,016 feet (1,834 m) long,[2][3][14] when measured between the curbs at Park Row in Manhattan and Sands Street in Brooklyn.[14] A separate measurement of 5,989 feet (1,825 m) is sometimes obtained as well; this is the measurement obtained by measuring from the curb at Centre Street in Manhattan.[15]:2[16]:28

The main span, between the two suspension towers, is 1,595.5 feet (486.3 m) long and 85 feet (26 m) wide.[15]:2[16]:28 It is alternately measured as having a maximum span height of 133 feet (41 m)[2] or 135 feet (41 m) above Mean High Water.[3] The side spans, between each suspension tower and each side's suspension anchorages, are each 930 feet (280 m) long.[15]:2[16]:28

Each of the side spans is reached by an approach ramp. At 971 feet (296 m), the approach ramp from the Brooklyn side is shorter than the 1,567-foot (478 m) approach ramp from the Manhattan side.[16]:28 The approaches are supported by Renaissance-style arches made of masonry; the arch openings themselves were filled with brick walls, with small windows within.[2][17]


The Brooklyn Bridge is supported by four main cables, which suspend the upper deck and are held up by the suspension towers. Each main cable measures 15.75 inches (40.0 cm) in diameter and contains 5,296 parallel, galvanized-steel wires wrapped closely together in a cylindrical shape.[16]:28

Each side of the bridge contains an anchorage for the main cables. The anchorages are trapezoidal, measuring 129 by 119 feet (39 by 36 m) at the base and 117 by 104 feet (36 by 32 m) at the top.[15]:2[16]:28 Each anchorage weighs 60,000 short tons (54,000 long tons)[15]:2 and contains numerous passageways and compartments. New York City rented out the large vaults under the bridge's Manhattan anchorage in order to fund the bridge. Opened in 1876, the vaults were used to store wine, as they were always at 60 °F (16 °C).[18] This was called the "Blue Grotto" because of a shrine to the Virgin Mary next to an opening at the entrance. When New York magazine visited one of the cellars in 1978, it discovered on the wall a "fading inscription" reading: "Who loveth not wine, women and song, he remaineth a fool his whole life long."[19]


The two suspension towers are 272 to 278 feet (83 to 85 m) tall with a footprint of 140 by 59 feet (43 by 18 m) at the high water line.[16]:28[3] They are built of limestone, granite, and Rosendale cement. The limestone was quarried at the Clark Quarry in Essex County, New York.[20] The granite blocks were quarried and shaped on Vinalhaven Island, Maine, under a contract with the Bodwell Granite Company, and delivered from Maine to New York by schooner.[21] The Manhattan tower contains 46,945 cubic yards (35,892 m3) of masonry, more than the Brooklyn tower, which has 38,214 cubic yards (29,217 m3) of masonry.[15]:2[16]:28

The towers rest on underwater caissons, giant upside-down boxes made of southern yellow pine. The Manhattan side's caisson is slightly larger, measuring 172 by 102 feet (52 by 31 m) and located 78.5 feet (23.9 m) below high water, while the Brooklyn side's caisson measures 168 by 102 feet (51 by 31 m) and is located 44.5 feet (13.6 m) below high water. The caissons were designed to hold 23 short tons per square foot (220 t/m2), even though the towers would only exert pressure of 5 short tons per square foot (49 t/m2) when built.[16]:28[15]:2, 5 The Brooklyn side's caisson, which was built first, originally had a height of 9.5 feet (2.9 m) with a ceiling composed of five layers of timber, each 1 foot (0.30 m) tall. Ten more layers of timber were later added atop the ceiling, and the entire caisson was wrapped in tin and wood for further protection. The thickness of the caisson's sides was 8 feet (2.4 m) at the bottom and 8 feet (2.4 m) at the top. The caisson had six chambers: two each for dredging, supply shafts, and airlocks.[22][15]:2 The Manhattan side's caisson was slightly different because it had to be installed at a lower depth. In addition to having seven additional layers of timber along with the 15 layers in its Brooklyn counterpart, the Manhattan caisson had fifty 4-inch (10 cm)-diameter pipes for sand removal, a fireproof iron-boilerplate interior, and different airlocks and communication systems.[22][15]:5[23]:269–271[24]



External video
Early plan of one tower for the Brooklyn Bridge, 1867
  Presentation by David McCullough on The Great Bridge, September 17, 2002, C-SPAN

The bridge was conceived by German immigrant John Augustus Roebling in 1852,[25] who spent part of the next 15 years working to sell the idea.[26] He had previously designed and constructed shorter suspension bridges, such as Roebling's Delaware Aqueduct in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania, and the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Covington, Kentucky.[27]

In February 1867, the New York State Senate passed a bill that allowed the construction of a suspension bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan.[28] Two months later, the New York and Brooklyn Bridge Company was incorporated. The company was tasked with constructing what was then known as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge.[29][30]

While conducting surveys for the bridge project, Roebling sustained a crush injury to his foot when a ferry pinned it against a piling. After amputation of his crushed toes, he developed a tetanus infection that left him incapacitated and soon resulted in his death in 1869. His 32-year-old son, Washington Roebling, was later designated to replace his father.[31] "After a week I had become sufficiently composed to take a sober look at my own situation," Washington later wrote. "Here I was at the age of 32 suddenly put in charge of the most stupendous engineering structure of the age! The prop on which I had hitherto leaned had fallen — henceforth I must rely on myself — How much better when this happens early in life, before we realize what it all implies."[32]


Construction of the Brooklyn Bridge began in 1869.[12] The bridge's two towers were built by floating the two caissons into the riverbed of the East River, and then building the stone towers atop the caissons until they sank to the bottom of the river. The Brooklyn side's caisson was built at the Webb & Bell shipyard in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and was launched into the river on March 19, 1870.[22][15]:2 Compressed air was pumped into the caisson, and workers entered the space to dig the sediment, until the caisson sank to the bedrock. Once the caisson had reached the desired depth, it was to be filled in with brick piers and concrete.[33][23]:196 However, due to the unexpectedly high concentration of large boulders atop the riverbed, the Brooklyn caisson took several months to sink at the desired rate.[23]:196[15]:2 Furthermore, in December 1870, the timber roof of the Brooklyn caisson caught fire, delaying construction further.[34][35] The caisson reached its final depth and filled with concrete on March 11, 1871.[15]:2 Overall, about 264 individuals were estimated to have worked in the caisson every day, but because of high turnover, about 2,500 men in total were estimated to have worked in the caisson.[23]:202–203

The Manhattan side's caisson was the next structure to be built, and to ensure that it would not catch fire like its counterpart had, the Manhattan caisson was lined with fireproof plate iron.[24] It was launched from Webb & Bell's shipyard on May 11, 1871,[36][15]:5 and maneuvered into place that September.[37][22] When iron probes underneath the Manhattan caisson found the bedrock to be even deeper than expected, Roebling halted construction due to the increased risk of decompression sickness. He later deemed the sandy subsoil overlying the bedrock 30 feet (9.1 m) below it to be firm enough to support the tower base, and construction continued.[38]

Due to the extreme underwater air pressure inside the caissons, many workers became sick with decompression sickness during this work, despite the incorporation of airlocks within each caisson.[39] This condition was unknown at the time and was first called "caisson disease" by the project physician, Andrew Smith.[40][41] Washington Roebling suffered a paralyzing injury as a result of caisson disease shortly after ground was broken for the Brooklyn tower foundation.[42] Roebling's debilitating condition left him unable to physically supervise the construction firsthand, so he designed and redesigned caissons and other equipment from his apartment. His wife, Emily Warren Roebling, provided written communications between her husband and the engineers on site.[23] Emily understood higher mathematics, calculations of catenary curves, strengths of materials, bridge specifications, and intricacies of cable construction. She spent the next 11 years helping to supervise the bridge's construction.[43][23][44]

Harbor pilot Joseph Henderson was called upon as an expert seaman to determine the height above mean high water for the Brooklyn Bridge's main span.[45]


Thomas A. Edison, Inc.: "New Brooklyn to New York Via Brooklyn Bridge", 1899
Newspaper headline announcing opening

The New York and Brooklyn Bridge was opened for use on May 24, 1883. Thousands of people attended the opening ceremony, and many ships were present in the East Bay for the occasion. President Chester A. Arthur and Mayor Franklin Edson crossed the bridge to celebratory cannon fire and were greeted by Brooklyn Mayor Seth Low when they reached the Brooklyn-side tower. Arthur shook hands with Washington Roebling at the latter's home, after the ceremony. Roebling was unable to attend the ceremony (and in fact rarely visited the site again), but held a celebratory banquet at his house on the day of the bridge opening. Further festivity included the performance of a band, gunfire from ships, and a fireworks display.[46][47] Since the New York and Brooklyn Bridge was the only one across the East River at that time, it was also called East River Bridge.[48]

Chromolithograph of the "Great East River Suspension Bridge", (Brooklyn Bridge), by Currier and Ives, 1883.

On that first day, a total of 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people crossed what was then the only land passage between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Emily Warren Roebling was the first to cross the bridge. The bridge's main span over the East River is 1,595 feet 6 inches (486.3 m). The bridge cost US$15.5 million in 1883 dollars (about US$403,339,000 in today's dollars) to build, and an estimated 27 men died during its construction.[49]

On May 30, 1883, six days after the opening, a woman falling down the stairway caused a stampede, which was responsible for at least twelve people being crushed and killed.[50] On May 17, 1884, P. T. Barnum helped to squelch doubts about the bridge's stability—while publicizing his famous circus—when one of his most famous attractions, Jumbo, led a parade of 21 elephants over the Brooklyn Bridge.[51][52][53][54]

Until the construction of the nearby Williamsburg Bridge in 1903, the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world, 50% longer than any previously built.[55] At the time, engineers had not yet discovered the aerodynamics of bridge construction. Bridges were not tested in wind tunnels at the time, so it was coincidental that the open truss structure supporting the deck is by its nature less subject to aerodynamic problems, since the Brooklyn Bridge's truss system was designed by Roebling to be six to eight times as strong as he thought it needed to be.[56]:4[57] During construction, there was disagreement over whether the bridge's cables should use the as-yet-untested Bessemer steel or the well-proven crucible steel, though the builders eventually agreed to use crucible steel supplied by contractor J. Lloyd Haigh.[56]:4[23]:369 Unknown to the builders, Haigh substituted inferior quality wire in the cabling, and by the time the scheme was discovered, it was too late to replace the cabling that had already been constructed.[23]:402–404 Roebling determined that the poorer wire would leave the bridge only four times as strong as necessary, so it was eventually allowed to stand, with the addition of extra cables.[56]:4[58]

Later yearsEdit

Brooklyn Bridge plaques
Dedication and renovation plaque, at Manhattan tower
New York City designated landmark plaque

In 1915, the city government officially named the structure the "Brooklyn Bridge",[59] a name first mentioned in print in a January 1867 letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.[60]

During the Cold War, a fallout shelter was constructed beneath the Manhattan approach. The abandoned space in one of the masonry arches still contained the emergency survival supplies for a potential nuclear attack by the Soviet Union when rediscovered in 2006 during a routine inspection.[61]

The Brooklyn Bridge gradually deteriorated due to age, and in June 1981, two of the diagonal stay cables snapped, seriously injuring a pedestrian[62][63] who later died.[58] The anchorages were subsequently found to have developed rust,[63] and an emergency cable repair was necessitated less than a month later after another cable developed slack.[64] Soon after, the city commenced a 15-year, $153 million rehabilitation of the Brooklyn Bridge in advance of the 100th anniversary. As part of the project, the Brooklyn Bridge's original suspender cables installed by J. Lloyd Haigh were replaced by Bethlehem Steel in 1986, marking the cables' first replacement since construction.[58] In a smaller project, the bridge was floodlit at night starting in 1982 to highlight its architectural features.[65]

Anniversary celebrationsEdit

The centennial celebrations on May 24, 1983, saw a cavalcade of cars crossing the bridge, led by President Ronald Reagan. A flotilla of ships visited the harbor, parades were held, and in the evening the sky over the bridge was illuminated by Grucci Fireworks.[66] The Brooklyn Museum exhibited a selection of the original drawings made for the bridge's construction, some by Washington Roebling. Media coverage of the centennial was declared "the public relations triumph of 1983" by Inc.[67]

Beginning on May 22, 2008, five days of festivities celebrated the 125th anniversary of the bridge's opening. The events kicked off with a live performance of the Brooklyn Philharmonic in Empire–Fulton Ferry State Park, followed by special lighting of the bridge's towers and a fireworks display.[68] Other events held during the 125th anniversary celebrations, which coincided with the Memorial Day weekend, included a film series, historical walking tours, information tents, a series of lectures and readings, a bicycle tour of Brooklyn, a miniature golf course featuring Brooklyn icons, and other musical and dance performances.[69] Just before the anniversary celebrations, artist Paul St George installed the Telectroscope, a video link between New York City and London, on the Brooklyn side of the bridge. The installation lasted for a few weeks and permitted viewers in New York City to see people looking into a matching telectroscope near London's Tower Bridge.[70] A newly renovated pedestrian connection to the DUMBO neighborhood was also unveiled before the anniversary celebrations.[71]


Renovation of the Brooklyn Bridge in progress

After the 2007 collapse of the I-35W highway bridge in Minneapolis, public attention focused on the condition of bridges across the U.S. The New York Times reported that the Brooklyn Bridge approach ramps received a rating of "poor" during its inspection in 2007.[72] According to a NYC Department of Transportation spokesman, the poor rating did not indicate a dangerous state but rather implied it required renovation. A US$508 million project (equivalent to US$584 million in 2018)[73] to renovate the approaches began in 2010, with the full bridge renovation beginning in early 2011. The project was originally scheduled to run until 2014, but did not actually finish until April 2015.[74][75] Work included widening two approach ramps from one to two lanes by re-striping a new prefabricated ramp; raising clearance over the eastbound Interstate 278 at York Street, on the double-deck Brooklyn-Queens Expressway; seismic retrofitting; replacement of rusted railings and safety barriers; and road deck resurfacing.[76] The nature of the work necessitated detours for four years.[77]

In August 2016, after the renovation of the bridge deck had been completed, the New York City Department of Transportation announced that it would conduct a seven-month, $370,000 study to verify if the bridge could support a heavier upper deck that consisted of an expanded bicycle and pedestrian path. As of 2016, about 10,000 pedestrians and 3,500 bikers use the pathway on an average weekday.[78] Work on the pedestrian entrance on the Brooklyn side was underway by 2017.[79]

In July 2018, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a further renovation of the Brooklyn Bridge's suspension towers and approach ramps, with construction scheduled to begin in mid-2019.[80][81] That December, the federal government gave the city $25 million in funding. This would pay for a $337 million rehabilitation of the bridge approaches and the suspension towers.[82]

Pedestrian and vehicular accessEdit

View from the pedestrian walkway. The bridge's cable arrangement forms a distinctive weblike pattern.
Street map of lower Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn dated 1885, two years after completion of the Brooklyn Bridge, showing street approaches to the bridge as they were

Rail trafficEdit

The Brooklyn Bridge originally carried horse-drawn and rail traffic, with a separate elevated walkway along the centerline for pedestrians and bicycles. Since 1950, the main roadway has carried six lanes of automobile traffic. Because of the roadway's height (11 ft (3.4 m) posted) and weight (6,000 lb (2,700 kg) posted) restrictions, commercial vehicles and buses are prohibited from using this bridge. The two inside traffic lanes once carried elevated trains of the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT) from points in Brooklyn to a terminal at Park Row via Sands Street. Streetcars ran on what are now the two center lanes (shared with other traffic) until the elevated lines stopped using the bridge in 1944, when they moved to the protected center tracks. In 1950, the streetcars also stopped running, and the bridge was rebuilt to carry six lanes of automobile traffic.

Vehicular trafficEdit

The Brooklyn Bridge is accessible to vehicles from the Brooklyn entrances of Tillary/Adams Streets, Sands/Pearl Streets, and Exit 28B of the eastbound Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. In Manhattan, cars can enter from either direction of the FDR Drive, Park Row, Chambers/Centre Streets, and Pearl/Frankfort Streets. Pedestrian and bicycle access to the bridge from the Brooklyn side is from either Tillary/Adams Streets (in between the vehicular entrance/exit) or a staircase on Prospect Street between Cadman Plaza East and West. In Manhattan, the pedestrian walkway is accessible from the end of Centre Street or through the free south staircase of the Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall/Chambers Street subway station complex.

Exits and entrancesEdit

Access to the bridge is provided by a complex series of ramps on both the Manhattan and Brooklyn sides of the bridge.

BrooklynBrooklyn Heights0.00.0Tillary Street / Adams Street southAt-grade intersection; no bridge access from eastbound Tillary Street
0.30.48Sands StreetNorthbound entrance only
0.40.64  I-278 (Brooklyn–Queens Expressway) / Cadman Plaza WestSouthbound exit and northbound entrance; exit 28B on I-278
East River0.7–
Suspension span
ManhattanFinancial District1.32.1  FDR Drive / Pearl StreetNorthbound exit and southbound entrance; exit 2 on FDR Drive
1.42.3Park Row southNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
1.52.4  Chambers Street / Centre Street to NY 9A / Church Street
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


Cross-section diagram of the bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge has a wide walkway open to pedestrians and cyclists in the center of the bridge above the automobile lanes. In 1971, a center line was painted to separate cyclists from pedestrians, creating one of the city's first dedicated bike lanes.[84] More than 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 cyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge each day.[85]

Emergency useEdit

While the bridge has always permitted the passage of pedestrians across its span, its role in allowing thousands to cross takes on a special importance in times of difficulty when usual means of crossing the East River have become unavailable. During transit strikes by the Transport Workers Union in 1980 and 2005, people commuting to work used the bridge joined by Mayors Ed Koch and Michael Bloomberg who crossed as a gesture to the affected public.[86][87] Following the 1965, 1977, and 2003 blackouts and most famously after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, people leaving Manhattan used the bridge after MTA suspended subway service.

During the 2003 event, many crossing the bridge reported a swaying motion.[88] The higher than usual pedestrian load caused this swaying coupled with the tendency of pedestrians to synchronize their footfalls with a sway, amplifying the motion.[89] Several engineers expressed concern about how this would affect the bridge, although others noted that the bridge did withstand the event and that the redundancies in its design—the inclusion of the three support systems (suspension system, diagonal stay system, and stiffening truss)—make it "probably the best secured bridge against such movements going out of control".[88] In designing the bridge, John Roebling had stated that the bridge would sag but not fall, even if one of these structural systems were to fail altogether.[23]

Panorama of Brooklyn Bridge, with the Manhattan Bridge behind it, and the Williamsburg Bridge visible farther in the background

Notable eventsEdit


In 1919, Giorgio Pessi piloted what was then one of the world's largest airplanes, the Caproni Ca.5, under the bridge.[90]

In June 1993, following 13 reconnoiters inside the metal structure, and with the help of a mountain guide, Thierry Devaux illegally performed eight acrobatic bungee jumps above the East River close to the Brooklyn-side pier, in the early morning. He used an electric winch between each acrobatic figure.[91]

Odlum jumps from the bridge

There have been several notable jumpers as well. The first person to jump from the bridge was Robert Emmet Odlum, brother of women's rights activist Charlotte Odlum Smith, on May 19, 1885.[92][93] He struck the water at an angle and died shortly thereafter from internal injuries.[94] Steve Brodie dropped from underneath the bridge in July 1886, although there is some doubt about this. Larry Donovan made a slightly higher jump from the railing a month later and went on to an international bridge jumping career. Cartoonist Otto Eppers jumped and survived in 1910, and was then tried and acquitted for attempted suicide.[95] A lesser known early jumper was James Duffy of County Cavan, Ireland, who, on April 15, 1895, asked several men to watch him jump from the bridge. Duffy jumped and was not seen again.[96]

Crimes and arrestsEdit

On March 1, 1994, Lebanese-born Rashid Baz opened fire on a van carrying members of the Chabad-Lubavitch Orthodox Jewish Movement, striking 16-year-old student Ari Halberstam and three others traveling on the bridge.[97] Halberstam died five days later from his wounds. Baz was apparently acting out of revenge for the Hebron massacre of 29 Palestinian Muslims by Baruch Goldstein that had taken place a few days earlier on February 25, 1994. Baz was convicted of murder and sentenced to a 141-year prison term. After initially classifying the murder as one committed out of road rage, the Justice Department reclassified the case in 2000 as a terrorist attack. The entrance ramp to the bridge on the Manhattan side was named the Ari Halberstam Memorial Ramp in memory of the victim.[98]

Aerial view, looking down at tower

In 2003, truck driver Iyman Faris was sentenced to about 20 years in prison for providing material support to Al-Qaeda, after an earlier plot to destroy the bridge by cutting through its support wires with blowtorches was thwarted through information the National Security Agency uncovered through wiretapped phone conversations and interrogation of Al-Qaeda militants.[99]

On October 1, 2011, police arrested more than 700 protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement who attempted to march across the bridge on the roadway.[100]

On July 22, 2014, it was found that the two American flags on the flagpoles atop each tower had been replaced by American flags that had been bleached white.[101][102] Authorities reviewed surveillance footage and DNA evidence and within two weeks, they found up to nine "persons of interest" with a possible motive being cannabis activism.[103][104][105] However, on August 12, 2014, two Berlin artists claimed responsibility for hoisting the two white flags, causing the security panic and investigation by the NYPD. Mischa Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke said the flags were meant to celebrate "the beauty of public space" and the anniversary of the death of German-born John Roebling; Wermke denied that it was an "anti-American statement". The artists say they hand-sewed the two flags into all-white replicas of an American flag and had the original flags ready to return.[106][107][108]


"Bird's-Eye View of the Great New York and Brooklyn Bridge and Grand Display of Fire Works on Opening Night"

Contemporaries marveled at what technology was capable of, and the bridge became a symbol of the optimism at the time of construction. John Perry Barlow wrote in the late 20th century of the "literal and genuinely religious leap of faith" embodied in the Brooklyn Bridge — "the Brooklyn Bridge required of its builders faith in their ability to control technology".[109]

Historical designations and plaquesEdit

The Brooklyn Bridge has been listed as a National Historic Landmark since January 29, 1964,[110][9][10] and was subsequently added to the National Register of Historic Places in October 15, 1966.[6] The bridge has also been a New York City designated landmark since August 24, 1967,[2] and was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1972.[11] In addition, it was placed on UNESCO's list of tentative World Heritage Sites in 2017.[111]

A bronze plaque is attached to the Manhattan anchorage, which was constructed on a piece of property occupied by the Samuel Osgood House, at 1 Cherry Street in Manhattan. It served as the first Presidential Mansion, housing George Washington, his family, and household staff from April 23, 1789 to February 23, 1790, when New York City was the national capital. Its owner, Samuel Osgood, a Massachusetts politician and lawyer, married Maria Bowne Franklin, widow of Walter Franklin, the New York merchant who built it in 1770.[112] The Osgood House was demolished in 1856.[113]

Cultural significanceEdit

Albert Gleizes, 1915, Brooklyn Bridge (Pont de Brooklyn), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. This was the most abstract painting of the bridge to date

References to "selling the Brooklyn Bridge" abound in American culture, sometimes as examples of rural gullibility but more often in connection with an idea that strains credulity. For example, "If you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you." George C. Parker and William McCloundy are two early 20th-century con-men who had successfully perpetrated this scam on unwitting tourists.[114]

Love locks on the Brooklyn Bridge

"Love locks" is a practice by which a couple inscribes a date and their initials onto a lock, attach it to the bridge, and throw the key into the water as a sign of their "everlasting love". Although the origin of the practice is unknown, it is more popular in Europe, where more than 20 countries have at least one city with a similar location. It has reportedly caused damage to certain bridges and is officially illegal in New York City. Workers periodically remove the love locks from the bridge.[115]

In mediaEdit

The bridge is often featured in wide shots of the New York City skyline in television and film.[55] American Modernist poet Hart Crane used the Brooklyn Bridge as a central metaphor and organizing structure for his second and most important book of poetry, The Bridge. American playwright Mark Violi penned the drama Roebling: The Story of the Brooklyn Bridge.[116]

The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge is detailed in The Great Bridge (1972), the book by David McCullough,[23] and in Brooklyn Bridge (1981), the first PBS documentary film by Ken Burns.[117] Burns drew heavily on McCullough's book for the film and used him as narrator.[118] It is also described in Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, a BBC docudrama series with an accompanying book, as well as the book Chief Engineer: Washington Roebling, The Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge (2017).[119]


The Brooklyn Bridge with Manhattan in the background, seen at daytime from Brooklyn
The same view at night

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ "NYC DOT Bridges & Tunnels Annual Condition Report 2015" (pdf). New York City Department of Transportation. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Brooklyn Bridge" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. August 24, 1967. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Facts on File Inc. (1914). The World Almanac & Book of Facts. Press Publishing Company (The New York World). p. 839. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  4. ^ Feuerstein, Gary (May 29, 1998). "Brooklyn Bridge Facts, History and Information". Endex Engineering, Inc. Archived from the original on February 8, 2010. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
  5. ^ "New York City Bridge Traffic Volumes" (PDF). New York City Department of Transportation. 2016. p. 11. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  6. ^ a b National Park Service (January 23, 2007). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  7. ^ a b "Brooklyn Bridge". National Park Service. Archived from the original on November 28, 2002.
  8. ^ E.P.D. (January 25, 1867). "The East River Bridge". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 27 (22). p. 2. Archived from the original on October 19, 2007. Retrieved November 26, 2007.
  9. ^ a b Armstrong, James B.; Bradford, S. Sydney (February 24, 1975). "The Brooklyn Bridge". National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination. National Park Service.
  10. ^ a b "The Brooklyn Bridge—Accompanying three photos, from 1975". National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination. National Park Service. February 24, 1975.
  11. ^ a b "Brooklyn Bridge". American Society of Civil Engineers Metropolitan Section. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  12. ^ a b "Brooklyn Bridge", Encyclopædia Britannica
  13. ^ Buiso, Gary (May 25, 2010). "A True Cover Up. Brooklyn Bridge Paint Job Glosses over History". New York Post. Retrieved October 23, 2010.
  14. ^ a b Brooklyn Citizen Almanac. Brooklyn Citizen. 1893. p. 165. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
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Further reading

External linksEdit