The Man with the Plan
The Brooklyn Bridge’s creator was John Augustus; he was one of the leading designers of steel suspension bridges. Various obstacles came their way while building it, but they managed it skillfully and made history.
About John Augustus
He was born in 1806 in Germany. He studied industrial engineering in Berlin; after finishing the studies, he went to western Pennsylvania, where he tries to make his living as a farmer but was not content. Then he moved to Harrisburg, where he got a job as a civil engineer. Later he opened a wire cable factory.
It is a brilliant feat of the 19th century, but building the suspension bridge was proposed in 1857. The proposal for the construction was sent to Congress. The primary aim was to create it over the East River, but then the plan was extended to build it till Brooklyn.
The proposal was sent in 1857, but the approval came in 1866. The permissions were given over to John Roebling and Wilhelm Hildenbrand. After two years, its constructions started, and then in 1869, the final plan was sent to President Ulysses Grant for approval.
It was the first bridge that used steel for cable wire, and there were various new things used in its construction. They also used construction explosives inside a pneumatic caisson for the very first time. It would be the first steel stoppage bridge boasting the largest span in the world 1,600 feet from tower to tower.
While constructing the bridge, there were various significant losses. The significant one of the death of John Roebling in 1869 because of an accident on the site. He was the one supervising the site to see where it should be built. Unfortunately, his legs got severely injured, and the infection spread throughout the body, because of which he died.
His son Washington Roebling was left in charge and became the chief engineer. It was under his watch in 1870 when the construction began, but just after two years, he also dies because of a crippling attack of decompression sickness.
Making of the bridge
Meanwhile, his wife Emily Roebling took care of the work and helped make the bridge. Finally, the wait was over, and it was completed in the year 1874. Later there was an addition of a temporary footbridge in 1877. In the same year, a furore erupted over the wiring arose. (See Why Was Angkor Wat Built?)
The Bridge’s opening day was May 24, 1883, and Emily was the first one to ride the first carriage across from the Brooklyn side. It was opened for the public now, and more than 5,00,000 people and 1500 vehicles attended the opening along with the President and numerous New York officials.
A problematic process
There were more than 20 workers who were killed during its construction, and a lot of them suffered from decompression sickness. The workers worked hard to accomplish this success, as they had to work underwater, used shovels, and dynamites to remove the mud and rocks at the bottom of the river.
Facts & Figures
The Bridge is 5989 ft long, which was the longest in the world when it was made. It is 85 ft wide, and its longest span is 1600 feet. The towers are created of granite, cement and limestone. Its distinctive element is that it has a broad promenade above the roadway. (See Why was the Sears Tower Built?)