They call it the Bends. It's not as if Brooklyn Bridge invented the condition - they'd known about it for centuries, but it was here that decompression sickness entered the public imagination. The construction of what was then the longest suspension bridge in the world was a mammoth undertaking and extremely dangerous. It cost the life of its designer and disabled his son who took over with a case of the bends in one of the many caissons that were used to construct the bridge.
A caisson is a pressurised structure that pushes out water and allows workers to operate below the surface of the river - vital in the deep and powerful East River. What they didn't know at the time is that the body needs time to adjust - the gasses in the body depressurize too quickly and cause great pain and physical damage. Along with Washington Roebling's paralyzing injury, 110 cases of what they then called the "caisson sickness" was diagnosed out of the 600 or so compression workers.
When it was built it became the only land crossing between Manhattan and Long Island. It was an immediate success with 1800 vehicles and over 150,000 people crossing it on its opening day in 1883. But it was such a marvel that people still didn't quite trust it, and when a rumour spread one day that it was about to collapse there was a stampede that resulted in a dozen people crushed to death. A year later P. T. Barnum led 21 of his elephants across the bridge to show just how safe it was. It has been a New York icon ever since.
Today at 130 years of age it carries well over a hundred thousand vehicles every day across its half a kilometer span. It's possible to walk or cycle across it along the central walkway, and the views are magnificent.
The just-over-a-mile walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is something you MUST do while in New York City.
The views of downtown Manhattan are amazing - some of the best in the city, I think! - plus the bridge itself is awesome; the steel cables overhead, the majestic arches and the traffic roaring by underneath you.
After the walk over the bridge, why not walk a bit further (afterall, Manhattan was built for walkers!!) and pop over to China Town for some food?
We ended up at Big Wong (had uptown along Centre St for 3 blocks then make a right onto Walker St. Go 3 more blocks and make another right onto Mott St and it's about half way down. You can't miss it - it's got a huge yellow sign out front!)
Not being hugely adventurous, both of us had a sweet-and-sour dish and egg fried rice. It was seriously delicious! And afterwards, we headed along Mulberry St for 7 blocks until we got to Bleeker St subway station.
Mulberry Street (the heart of Little Italy) is a delight! Tons of bars and italian restaurants, lots of touristy knick-knack shops and even some drag queens! (definitely worth a walk, if you can move after your HUGE Chinese or Italian meal!!)
In the splendour of New York's architecture, this old bridge, may pass unnoticed, unless you are adverted or have the chance to read about it.
Now a common and discreet bridge, it was, at the time of its construction an astonishing challenge.
But don't ask me to write what other have done better; just follow the link.
One of the icons of New York is the Brooklyn Bridge. This time I even planned it that our hotel will be in a walking distance from the bridge and one morning after breakfast we took a walk all the way to and over the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn,
Not only is the Brooklyn Bridge NYC's most famous and photographed (it really is architecturally pleasing to the eyes), but perhaps its most storied - mostly tragic, sadly. During its 16-year construction, it claimed 20 lives, mostly from caisson disease. But nothing could be more tragic than the death of John Roebling, the engineer who designed and conceptualized the bridge, not from any disease but from an accident. Weeks before construction, Roebling's foot was crushed between an incoming ferry and the ferry slip. Three weeks later, Roebling died and his son Washington took over. Washington himself suffered from caisson disease and his wife completed the bridge under his direction.
On May 24, 1883, after 14 years and 27 construction-related deaths, the Brooklyn Bridge opened, connecting the cities of New York and Brooklyn (Yes, in 1883, they were separate, independent cities.)over the East River for the first time in history. Thousands of Brooklyn and Manhattan Island residents witnessed the dedication ceremony, presided over by President Chester A. Arthur and New York Gov. Grover Cleveland. Designed by the late John A. Roebling, the Brooklyn Bridge was the largest suspension bridge ever built at that time, and was dubbed the 8th wonder of the world.
On May 25, 1983, I was there, only a day late but unfortunately several dollars short, for the centennial celebration of its opening. Although I missed most of the fanfare, I may have had a better visit. I got an individually personalized tour of the bridge, including actually going down into one of the caissons. (I had always assumed that they were solid since they have such a daunting task to perform.) From there I walked to the Brooklyn Borough Branch of the New York Public Library where I saw another display on the construction of the bridge and an art exhibit which had absolutely nothing to do with Robert Mapplethorpe.
Late that afternoon, I had one of the best seafood dinners that I have ever had, followed by an extremely long walk back up town which would have been long enough even if I had not gotten lost and ended up deep in the Bowery. I had absolutely no trouble sleeping that night.
Being a day late for the celebration was not by design but I am rather pleased that it worked out that way.
While walking around on the south end of Manhattan, I passed a sign pointing to the Brooklyn Bridge, and with a little time to kill, I headed over. I started to walk across just to get a look at some of the architecture, and before you know it, you're close to the center of the bridge. There is a lot of pedestrian traffic here, and many cyclists as well. About 15 minutes across, there is a fairly wide area where many people huddle to take pictures as a break point across the East river.
The bridge itself is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the country. The pedestrian/cycle access is above the vehicle access on the bridge. What was appealing to me was the construction - this is a very neat bridge to look at, deserving of its landmark status.
In 1855, John Roebling, famous bridge designer at that time, proposed a suspension bridge over the East River Work began on the Brooklyn Bridge in 1869. His son Washington, also an accomplished engineer, took over direction of the construction after his father’s death. In 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge, then known as the "Great East River Bridge," opened to the public. Twenty-seven men overall died during construction. The Brooklyn Bridge, now a National Historic Landmark, is Brooklyn's most beloved tourist attraction as well as the connection between Brooklyn and Manhattan for close to 140,000 vehicles daily but is not the only bridge that coonects brooklyn to manhattan. The Brooklyn Bridge's main span over the East River is 1,595 feet (486 meters) and takes you from Manhattan's civic center into tree-lined Brooklyn Heights.
It is one of the most famous bridges in the world. You don't have to know much about it to love it. It is very beautiful. We did a bicycle tour the last time we were there from Times Square to Brooklyn Bridge. It was a lovely way to see it. Of course the view from the bridge is spectacular so those of you who are fond of taking pictures, this is your chance!
If you've got some time and the weather is nice, consider taking a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge. It is one of the most iconic bridges in the country and offers beautiful views. If you are in downtown Manhattan, the bridge is next to City Hall and the courthouses, just north of the financial district. Once you get to Brooklyn, if you're hungry grab a slice of pizza at Grimaldi's (there may be a line to wait, but it is true, authentic NY pizza!) or take a stroll to Brooklyn Heights (a truly stunning area filled with well kept brownstones) and walk along the promenade for more great views of Manhattan. There are some great shops and restaurants in Brooklyn, so don't overlook this borough on your visit!
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