Sure, the Brooklyn Bridge serves a practical purpose as the means for millions of commuters to travel from lower Manhattan to Brooklyn, but it is also one of the most iconic structures in the city. You can walk and bike over it, but beware, the crowds are serious! Go early in the morning or late at night to avoid the hustle and bustle.
What’s the history of the Brooklyn Bridge?
A true feat of 19th century engineering, this 1.3-mile long steel-wire suspension bridge was designed by famed civil-engineer John A. Roebling in 1869 (who, subsequently, would be the first of over 20 deaths caused by the construction of the bridge after a tragic accident involving a docking ferry). When the bridge officially opened 14 years later on May 24, 1883 it was the world’s largest suspension bridge and immediately became a sensation as over 150,000 people crossed the bridge on that day alone. Looking up at the Gothic towers made of granite, limestone and Rosedale cement, formerly the tallest structures in the Western Hemisphere, it’s easy to understand why the landmark became the subject of countless paintings and photographs.
How can you cross the bridge?
Today anyone on feet or wheels (rollerblades, bicycles, cars, hoverboards, what-have-yous) can travel between the boroughs without paying a toll.
Where should I go nearby?
Enjoy a nice sit at the historic and beautiful City Hall Park directly on the Manhattan side. The Brooklyn side of the bridge ends in gorgeous DUMBO, where you can explore Brooklyn Bridge Park, gaze at Lady Liberty, visit the Brooklyn Flea on weekends, and eat at famous Grimaldi’s brick oven pizza.
Oh, you want more history?
Back in 1883, when Emily Roebling–wife and partner of Washington Roebling, the civil engineer and son of John A. Roebling, who continued his father’s work after his death–led the first party of walkers, the toll was a penny per person and additional cents for horses, wagons and livestock. Of course back then a lot was different: Not only were there not six lanes dedicated to car traffic (since there were no cars), Manhattan and Brooklyn were two entirely separate cities–New York (Manhattan) was the most populated in the country, but Brooklyn boasted the title as fourth behind Chicago and Philadelphia. Should you happen to be one of the 6,600 pedestrians travelling on foot and feel anxious about the sturdiness of the bridge, remember that P.T. Barnum once had his famous circus star Jumbo lead a parade of 21 elephants across the bridge.