In 1870 the New York Borough of Manhattan was largely populated and in danger of overcrowding. The borough of Brooklyn, however, which was located just over the East River, occupied a much larger area and was only populated with around 400,000 people. The obvious choice was to encourage growth outside of Manhattan, into Brooklyn, but with the East River in the way this wasn’t easy. In 1870 construction began on the Brooklyn Bridge, connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan via the East River.
Vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles alike are allowed to cross the Brooklyn Bridge (known as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge, until officially shortened in 1915), making it the ideal tourist spot. Many people visit New York on weekend trips and fortnight-long holidays, incorporating the bridge into their itinerary. Photographers find it one of their favorite spots as you can take pictures at any point along it, during day or night (when it’s lit up quite spectacularly) and from almost any angle.
While the Brooklyn Bridge has seen tragedies such as people committing suicide from it and into the East River below, and an attempt in 2003 by Al Qaeda to destroy it, it is also a very well loved part of the New York skyline to this very day. In 2008 elaborate celebrations took place to mark the Brooklyn Bridge’s 125th anniversary, including a live Brooklyn Philharmonic performance, a firework’s display and the construction of a temporary faux-telectroscope connecting New York with London via a live video link.
The bridge was designed by John Augustus Roebling, although unfortunately he was unable to see out its construction. His foot had slipped into some pylons right at the beginning of the project, crushing his toes and as a result they had to be amputated, leaving him unable to walk. Later he caught tetanus from the injury and this was the cause of his death.
John’s son, Washington Roebling, continued the project until he too suffered problems as a result of construction. This time Washington suffered decompression sickness as a result of working underwater for extended lengths of time and not being exposed to pressure first. The symptoms were severe and by communicating with his well-learned (particularly in mathematics and bridge engineering) wife Emily, the couple were able to complete construction on the bridge that took a total of thirteen years.
Construction on the Brooklyn Bridge also cost an estimated £15,100,000, weighed 6620 tons and spanned 6016 feet in total length. 27 construction workers died during its construction, not including John Augustus Roebling.
The Brooklyn Bridge was opened on May 30th 1883, allowing 150,300 people to cross it in those first 24 hours alone. At this time the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world, and very first steel wire suspension bridge to have ever been built. It is perhaps because of these dimensions and feats that the Brooklyn Bridge has been named as one of the seven wonders of the industrial world, and also as a National Historic Landmark in 1964.
How to Get There:
Luckily, New York is one of the most metropolitan cities in the world, and therefore has a large commercial airport that almost any medium commercial airport will fly to internationally. The distance from this airport (John F Kennedy Airport) to the Brooklyn Bridge is just under 20 miles, so it’s very easy to travel there as soon as you land.
We recommend you rent a taxi to take you to your accommodation for your stay, and then take another taxi, rented car or rented bicycle from there. Remember, you can walk across the bridge, so it’s worth looking at bus timetables and taking a leisurely stroll from one end to the other.
Where to Stay:
There are hundreds of hotels in the New York – Brooklyn area, which means visitors have a huge amount of choice here.
On the Manhattan side of the bridge you could try the Wall Street Hotel, which offers very modern luxury rooms at around $240 per night.
On the other side of the bridge and closer to JFK airport, however, is the Howard Johnson (also known as the ‘HoJo) hotel, which offers budget to mid range rooms for around $135 per night. There are also other Howard Johnson hotels in this region, such as the one in Long Island, or one in North Bergen.