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he Brooklyn Bridge Part VI: The Grand Opening  © 2018 by Dr. Philip Ernest Schoenberg

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This political cartoon celebrating the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge satirizes how the cities of New York and Brooklyn looked at the impact of the bridge.  The Brooklyn newspapers called the opening of the bridge to be a “marriage” between the two cities while the New York newspapers said it was only an “engagement.”

Opening Day 24 May 1883 14

On May 24, 1883, the formal opening of the “Eighth Wonder of the World” took place. The bridge was illuminated by electricity for the occasion the first time this had ever been done. It was the biggest celebration New York had seen since the opening of the Erie Canal or the New York Water Works. Tiffany invitations were sent. Both cities went on holiday to the great joy of the school children. Fourteen tons of fireworks were set off. Bands played on excursion boats. The Atlantic Squadron steamed and sailed up the river. Harper’s Weekly reported “A festival …unique…New York has seldom seen….”

President Chester A. Arthur and New York State Governor on opening day 24 May 1883 16

President Chester A. Arthur of the United States, Governor Grover Cleveland of New York State, and Mayor Franklin Edson of New York City, the United States Marine Band, and the United States Army Seventh Regiment walked across from the Manhattan side. They were greeted by Mayor Seth Low of Brooklyn on the Brooklyn side. The bridge was opened to the general public at midnight. The first day 153,300 people crossed the bridge; a record number of 165,500 people strolled across two days later. Today, the bridge is lucky to have 1,000 people cross over it on a Sunday. Mrs. Roebling invited 1,000 guests to a private reception at their family home in Brooklyn Heights. The physical act of joining New York and Brooklyn helped to pave the way for the political unification of both cities in 1898 to form Greater New York.

Opening Day 24 May 1883 15

The Brooklyn Bridge is more than a bridge. It is a monument that has become a legend to American Can-Do Technology.  We believe that we can do anything.  Let us walk.

Blog 29 The Brooklyn Bridge Part VI: The Grand Opening  © 2018 by Dr. Philip Ernest Schoenberg

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