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The Brooklyn Bridge:  Part II: Builder of the Brooklyn Bridge: John August Roebling, the Father– Part 1

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You may ask, why was the Brooklyn Bridge built? John Augustus Roebling was the financial, the artistic, and the engineering genius who constructed the Brooklyn Bridge. Roebling was a man of action. With the help of his family, he transformed other people’s dreams into reality.

How did Roebling come to construct this huge marvel? One day in 1852, when the only way to cross the river was by boat, the ferry Roebling was riding got stuck in the ice. While others cursed, Roebling planned a solution. Roebling was the first engineer to propose a bridge across the waterway. The roadway would go through the heart of both cites and connect New York City Hall to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The walking  promenade would “allow people of leisure old and young to stroll over the bridge on fine days.” Roebling sent his proposal to Abram Hewitt, a great business leader, and a future mayor of New York City. Hewitt publicized the plan. William Cruz Murphy, the former mayor of Brooklyn and the publisher of the Brooklyn Eagle championed the idea. The editor of the newspaper, Walt Whitman, had previously pleaded for a bridge across the East River.

Above all, Roebling loved a challenge. This bridge had to be the tallest, the strongest, the longest, and the finest in the world. The East River is a turbulent tidal strait connecting Upper New York Bay with Long Island Sound. The bridge would have to be so tall that only a few ships would have to trim their sails on one of the busiest waterways in the world. During the 13 years it took to build the bridge, maritime traffic was never interrupted.

You may ask, why was the Brooklyn Bridge built? John Augustus Roebling was the financial, the artistic, and the engineering genius who constructed the Brooklyn Bridge. Roebling was a man of action. With the help of his family, he transformed other people’s dreams into reality.

How did Roebling come to construct this huge marvel? One day in 1852, when the only way to cross the river was by boat, the ferry Roebling was riding got stuck in the ice. While others cursed, Roebling planned a solution. Roebling was the first engineer to propose a bridge across the waterway. The roadway would go through the heart of both cites and connect New York City Hall to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The walking  promenade would “allow people of leisureold and youngto stroll over the bridge on fine days.” Roebling sent his proposal to Abram Hewitt, a great business leader, and a future mayor of New York City. Hewitt publicized the plan. William Cruz Murphy, the former mayor of Brooklyn and the publisher of the Brooklyn Eagle championed the idea. The editor of the newspaper, Walt Whitman, had previously pleaded for a bridge across the East River.

Above all, Roebling loved a challenge. This bridge had to be the tallest, the strongest, the longest, and the finest in the world. The East River is a turbulent tidal strait connecting Upper New York Bay with Long Island Sound. The bridge would have to be so tall that only a few ships would have to trim their sails on one of the busiest waterways in the world. During the 13 years it took to build the bridge, maritime traffic was never interrupted.

Brooklyn Bridge Caisson

Finally, the New York politicians got their act together. In the harsh winter of 1867, when the East River was choked with ice, the New York State legislature chartered the Brooklyn Bridge Company, later renamed the New York Bridge Company, to build the bridge. William Murphy became the president of the Board of Trustees. On May 23, 1867, John Roebling was appointed chief engineer by the company he had created.

Brooklyn Bridge Caisson

Finally, the New York politicians got their act together. In the harsh winter of 1867, when the East River was choked with ice, the New York State legislature chartered the Brooklyn Bridge Company, later renamed the New York Bridge Company, to build the bridge. William Murphy became the president of the Board of Trustees. On May 23, 1867, John Roebling was appointed chief engineer by the company he had created.

Blog 22 The Brooklyn Bridge:  Part II: Builder of the Brooklyn Bridge: John August Roebling, the Father– Part 1

© 2018 by Dr. Philip Ernest Schoenberg

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