Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Since its opening in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge has been an iconic part of the New York City skyline. The Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1903. Upon completion, the Brooklyn Bridge was the only bridge linking Manhattan to Brooklyn.


John Augustus Roebling was selected to design the bridge to connect Manhattan to Brooklyn. While surveying the land for the bridge, his foot was pinned by a ferry, crushing his toes. He developed a tetanus infection were his toes were amputated and later died from the infection. Prior to his death, Roebling placed his son Washington in charge of developing the bridge. Shortly after construction started in 1870, Washington suffered from caisson disease, or decompression sickness, while working in the caissons. His injury left him incapacitated, but he was able to communicate through his wife. With Emily’s assistance, Washington and Emily were able to complete the Brooklyn Bridge in 13 years.

photo by: Marco Nürnberger ©

The Brooklyn Bridge opened on May 23, 1883. Emily Roebling was the first person to cross the historic bridge. Over 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people crossed the bridge on opening day. Today, approximately, 123,000 vehicles cross the Brooklyn Bridge.


The Brooklyn Bridge was the first bridge to use Steel cabling rather than the traditional iron or chain cabling. Each of the four main Brooklyn Bridge cables can hold 11,200 tons or 22,400,000 pounds. Each cable is 15 inches in diameter and is constructed of 19 strands, which contains 5,434 steel wires for a total of 14,060 miles of steel cabling. Roebling designed the cabling system to be 6 times stronger than what was necessary to sustain the bridge. His actual design specified a maximum load capacity of 18,700 tons.

The total cost to build the Brooklyn Bridge was $15.1 million dollars. Around $4 million dollars was used to purchase land for approaches, while the remaining funds were used to build the bridge.

quick facts & figures

Construction Start: 1870

Year Opened: 1883

Longest Bridge until: 1903

Daily Vehicles: 123,000

Bridge Type: Suspension

Designer: John Roebling

Height: 335′

Length: 6016′

Cable Diameter: 15″

Cable Cap: 22,400,000 lbs

Total Cost: $15.1 Million