The Brooklyn Bridge is one of New York’s signature and most recognizable landmarks, and is also one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. Walking across the bridge that spans the East River, connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn, is one of the favourite tourist activities.
On both our trips to NYC, it felt like there were endless sights to see,and never enough time to take it all in. All the attractions can add up pretty fast, so if you are short on money, we would recommend taking a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge as it is a great way to experience the city and get some great skyline views.
It is such a huge tourist attraction though, making it a really busy place with seemingly endless crowds of tourists are walking and biking across the bridge all throughout the day. Our visit had to be in the late afternoon and it was still packed. We would suggest going early morning or late at night to try to beat some of the crowd.
According to History.com, “The Brooklyn Bridge has arguably inspired more art than any other manmade structure in the United States. Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol and dozens of other well-known painters have incorporated it into their works, as have photographers (Walker Evans); documentarians (Ken Burns); playwrights (Arthur Miller); novelists (Henry Miller); newspaper columnists (Jimmy Breslin); urban historians (Lewis Mumford); poets (Jack Kerouac); and musicians (Wyclef Jean). It likewise has had a slew of TV shows and movie cameos, including “The Docks of New York,” “It Happened in Brooklyn,” “Moonstruck,” “Godzilla” and “Spider-Man.” Meanwhile, advertisers have used the bridge to sell everything from Vaseline to Absolut Vodka, and it is even the symbol of an Italian chewing gum.”
Who knew a bridge could be a cause of so much inspiration?
As impressive as the bridge is, it is also important to not forget those who lost their lives trying to build this magnificent structure. The Brooklyn Bridge was John Augustus Roebling’s brainchild, but he did not live to see its completion. While making measurements for the future bridge in 1869, a ferry crushed Roebling’s foot. The engineer developed tetanus as a result of these wounds and passed away in July 1869. His son, Washington Augustus Roebling, stepped in as the bridge project’s chief engineer after his Father’s passing and encountered a problem of his own. To build the structure’s massive foundation, workers labored in sealed chambers that kept the riverbed dry and allowed for digging. Breathing and working deep in these chambers required the use of compressed air. When workers came up from the depths, this made them vulnerable to “caisson disease,” known today as ‘the bends’. In 1872, Roebling came down with the caisson disease and was confined to bed. His wife, Emily Warren Roebling, took over and became known as a pioneering female engineer and a driving force behind the bridge, also creating an early feminist victory.
Today, even with the crowds, it was nice to take some time to marvel at the fascinating bridge design and the views from it. The bridge really is a beauty. It is pretty crazy to think about what all went into building this bridge back in the day, the lives lost, the challenges encountered and accomplishments made along the way.
Take a look at how impressive the bridge is and next time you’re in NYC, take a walk to check it out for yourself: