The Brooklyn Bridge: Sentry and Storyteller
The Brooklyn Bridge – originally referred to as The East River Bridge and the New York and Brooklyn Bridge – has occupied a singular place in America’s cultural consciousness since the fevered discussions that preceded its construction.
Upon opening, the Bridge was hailed by many as the Eighth wonder of the world. It was the crown jewel of modern ingenuity. The symbol of a newer, more future-conscious society.
A Cultural Icon
It’s one of the world’s most notable structures – gracing everything from postcards and book jackets to advertisements and film screens. For well over a century the bridge has stood sentry above the East River – steadily stirring America’s imagination with tales of visionary engineering, national integrity, and working-class heroism.
The public has adopted and endorsed the bridge as a vital social emblem. It’s been received – by scholars and laypeople alike – as both a beautiful and sweeping structure, and as a jarring precursor to a stone-and-metal dystopian future.
Time after time, The Brooklyn Bridge has been a central image in literature, art, music, politics and film – influencing and inspiring more than any other industrial structure in the U.S.
Reporters have likened the Bridge’s components to snakes and whips, while poets have canonized it as the unifying symbol of the American Spirit. The Bridge has appeared in countless films – like Gangs of New York, Kate & Leopold, I Am Legend, It Happened in Brooklyn, The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, Godzilla and Annie Hall – as well as in various television series’ such as CSI:NY.
It’s been painted, tattooed, awarded, feared and admired. And its legacy continues today.
A Visionary Design
After 14 years of intensive construction, The Brooklyn Bridge was officially completed in 1883, and connected the boroughs of Brooklyn – which wasn’t yet a part of New York City – and Manhattan for the first time.
Designed by John Augustus Roebling in Neo-Gothic style, and stretching some 1,500-odd’ feet above the East River’s voluminous depths – it was unveiled as the first-ever steel-wire suspension bridge in existence, remaining the longest of its kind until 1903.
Its daunting towers are composed of limestone, granite and cement – and its original structure is largely intact, despite renovations.
A National Celebration
On May 24, 1883, visitors flocked to celebrate what the New York Times described as “the greatest gala day in the history of that moral suburb.”
The Brooklyn Bridge’s opening day ceremonies boasted political and military marches, cannon-fire, an hour-long display of fireworks, and numerous speeches. Visitors gaped before the Bridge’s immense size and scope – while investors, officials and workers marveled at its overwhelming $15,000,000 price tag.
The Image of a Nation
In 1964, the Brooklyn Bridge was designated a National Historic Landmark – reinvigorating a sentimental kind of attention and an upsurge in tourism.
The Brooklyn Bridge is the setting of a thousand stories. It’s a central chapter in American cultural and technological history. It’s a site for daredevils, politicians, lovers, artists, thinkers and reformers.
Reach out and touch history. Come and see an image of America’s world-changing heritage. Book your tour today.