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New York in New York County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

How the Bridge was Built

 
 
How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
1. How the Bridge was Built Marker
Caption: Caisson
Inscription. Considered one of the greatest triumphs of nineteenth-century engineering when it opened in May, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was built to provide a suitable all-weather link between the then independent and rapidly growing cities of New York and Brooklyn. The brilliant engineer John Roebling proposed a great suspension bridge, a pioneering structure in its use of steel which would leave the busy East River free of obstruction. When he died in an accident as the bridge was being surveyed, his son Washington was chosen to complete the structure.

Washington was totally disabled in 1872 by caisson disease (the bends) and could never visit the site again. His remarkable wife Emily became his chief administrative aide and enabled Washington to finish the project successfully.

1870 The Bridge Foundation
The majestic towers of the bridge rest on wooden foundations called pneumatic caissons. Each caisson is a giant bottomless chamber which was built on land and slowly sunk to the river bed exactly where the tower was to rise. Inside the chamber, workers excavated debris until firm ground to support the weight of the tower was reached. The caisson was then filled with concrete.

1870 The Tower’s Begun
The stone blocks for the towers were lifted into place by boom derricks and a system of steam pulleys. The weight

How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
2. How the Bridge was Built Marker
of the first stone course for the tower caused the caisson to settle to the river bed; the excavation began.

1871 Work in the Caisson
Within each caisson was an elaborate system of air locks and supply shafts. Compressed air was pumped in to keep the river water out. Workers entered the caisson through air locks. Debris was removed through shafts filled with water and carried from the site on scows. Many men fell ill to the bends caused by rapid changes in pressure when leaving the caisson.

1872 The Towers Rise
The towers support the cables and thereby the entire weight of the bridge roadway and traffic. They are constructed of New Jersey limestone and Maine granite, and each rises 272 feet and 6 inches above high water. In 1872 the towers reached the height of the roadway.

1876 The Towers are Joined
Massive stone anchorages on either shore secure the cables and resist their tremendous pull. Each anchorage weighs 60,000 tons and is 89 feet high. Before cable making could begin, the towers were joined by wire rope loops, called “travelers:” these would carry men and material between the anchorages. The first traveler was completed August 14, 1876.

August 1876 Frank Farrington
Master-Mechanic Franck Farrington is first to cross East River by a traveler wire.

1877 Preparation for Cable Spinning
All

How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
3. How the Bridge was Built Marker
Captions: Cross section of caisson; Hoist; Airlock; Scow for debris.
the work on the bridge was done without disturbing traffic in the busy port. When the towers were completed, cable spinning began. Work platforms were supported on wires high above the river and were reached by walkways that ran from anchorage to anchorage over the tops of the towers.

1877 The Carrier Wheels
For the cable spinning wire was looped around a carrier wheel hung from the traveler and pulled across the river from Brooklyn to New York. The system, driven by steam engines, worked like a conveyor belt. Over 14,000 miles of wire were used in the cables.

1877 Cable Spinning
As the wires for the cables were spun in place, workers adjusted them to exact position and make sure all were parallel. When 278 wires were spun, they were bound to form a strand. Nineteen strands formed one cable. The cable stands were bolted to eyebar chains encased in the masonry of the anchorage. An iron anchor plate holds the end of each chain in place.
Each anchor plate weights 23 tons. Eighteen eyebars radiate up from it’s base
Section of cable 15 ¾ inches thick. 19 strands per cable.

1878 Cable Wrapping
John Roebling designed the unique machine used to wrap the cables of the bridge. An iron clamp compressed the strands, forming a cable into a perfect cylindrical arrangement. A wrapping device bound the cable with a tight spiral of soft

How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
4. How the Bridge was Built Marker
Caption: Height of roadway.
wire and the cable was then coated with white lead. This process stiffened the cables and protected them from weather.

1881 Suspending the Roadway
The bridge floor is made of steel trusses suspended from the cables by wire rope. At midspan the roadway is 135 feet above the water and allows easy passage of river traffic.

May 24, 1883 A Union of Hears and a Union of Hands Finis Coronat Opus. “The finish crowns the work” commemorates the opening of the bridge linking the cities of New York and Brooklyn in 1883. After thirteen years of innovative and courageous effort the exultation was appropriate. In the years following the Civil War this image of success must have been especially poignant and expressive of both spiritual recovery and technological growth. The two cities clasping hands suggests the final consolidation of New York and Brooklyn with other boroughs in 1898.

Edward I. Koch, Mayor of the City of New York
Howard Golden, Borough President of Brooklyn
Andrew J. Stein, Borough President of Manhattan
The 1983 Brooklyn Bridge Centennial Commission
The New York City Department of Transportation
 
Erected 1983 by The 1983 Brooklyn Bridge Centennial Commission.
 
Location. 40° 42.437′ N, 73° 59.906′ 

How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
5. How the Bridge was Built Marker
Captions: Anchorage; First Traveler Wire; Anchorage.
W. Marker is in New York, New York, in New York County. Marker can be reached from Brooklyn Bridge. Click for map. This maker is located at the tower(s) on the Brooklyn Bridge Promenade. Marker is in this post office area: New York NY 10038, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Panaroma (sic) of Brooklyn South of the Brooklyn Bridge (a few steps from this marker); 1883 The City of Brooklyn (a few steps from this marker); FishBridge Park (approx. 0.2 miles away); First Presidential Mansion (approx. 0.2 miles away); Fulton Fish Waist - 142 Beekman Street (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Brooklyn Bridge (approx. ¼ mile away); 207 - 211 Water Street (approx. 0.3 miles away); Peking (approx. 0.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in New York.
 
More about this marker. This marker is composed of four panels, in two pairs, placed at right angles to each other. The marker is duplicated at each tower of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The marker is too large to be in included in one photograph, thus it is presented in a sequence of photographs.
 
Also see . . .  Building the Brooklyn Bridge - About.com. "Of all the engineering advances in the 1800s, the Brooklyn Bridge stands out as perhaps the most famous and most remarkable. It took more than a
How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
6. How the Bridge was Built Marker
decade to build, cost the life of its designer, and was constantly criticized by skeptics who thought the entire thing was going to fall into New York's East River." (Submitted on January 27, 2013, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 
 
Categories. Bridges & Viaducts
 
How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
7. How the Bridge was Built Marker
Captions: Footbridge; Work platforms.
How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
8. How the Bridge was Built Marker
Caption: Carrier wheel.
How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
9. How the Bridge was Built Marker
Caption: Carrier wheel with cable spinning wire.
How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
10. How the Bridge was Built Marker
Captions: Travelers with spinning wire; Cables to eyebar chain.
How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
11. How the Bridge was Built Marker
How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
12. How the Bridge was Built Marker
Caption: Cable wrapping buggy.
How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
13. How the Bridge was Built Marker
Caption: Cable wrapping buggy.
How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
14. How the Bridge was Built Marker
Caption: Roadway support beams under construction.
How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
15. How the Bridge was Built Marker
How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
16. How the Bridge was Built Marker
This marker is at the Brooklyn-end tower, facing Brooklyn. A duplicate marker is located at the New York-end tower, facing New York.
How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
17. How the Bridge was Built Marker
How the Bridge was Built Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
18. How the Bridge was Built Marker
The New York end.
The Brooklyn Bridge image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 20, 2012
19. The Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 12, 2012
20. The Brooklyn Bridge
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 263 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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