National Geographic : 1983 May
ACENTURY OLD, THE WONDERFUL Brooklyn Bridge NFANT AMID THE WONDERS of the world, the 100-year-old Brooklyn Bridge ranks among the most graceful works of man and the greatest engineering feats of all time. Spanning the fierce tides of the East River, it was at its opening the longest suspension bridge on earth. Its story is an epic written by the determination and sacrifice of two engineering geniuses, father and son. They were the Roeblings, pioneer builders of big suspension bridges, who here for the first time utilized steel-wire cables instead of wrought iron. The cables give the lazy catenary curve of a suspended hammock, one of the loveliest of forms (left). The Gothic arches in the granite towers of the Brooklyn Bridge make a cathedral of the sky, as sea gulls ply the nave and aisles. Ocean-bound vessels, from schooners to naval cruisers, glide beneath, and an occasional small airplane-flouting the rules flies under it. The bridge brought unity to New York, joining Manhattan to the then separate city of Brooklyn. On opening day, May 24, 1883, its dedi cation, attended by President Chester A. Arthur, set off the biggest cele bration either city had seen (below) since the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. New Yorkers dreamed, and later realized, that their city was the , capital of the world. PHOTOGRAPHEDCOURTESYPAULROEBLINGANDTHE MUNICIPALARCHIVESOF THE CITY OF NEWYORK THE FAMILY that built Washington A. Roebling, right, the bridge: Immigrant en- whose notes appear on this gineer John A. Roebling, drawing of a hoisting frame, center, probably found inspira- directed the construction of his MUSEUMOFTHECITYOFNEWYORK tion in the iron-chain suspen- father's design despite being sion bridge of Bamberg that he impaired by caisson disease By JOHN G. MORRIS sketched in a diary he brought the bends. He relied on his ener Photographs by DONAL F. HOLWAY from Germany. getic wife, Emily, "a strong Photographs by DONAL F. HOLWAY His son and successor, Col. tower to lean upon." 565~~~~ THSAGOLSU 565 THIS PAGE FOLDS OUT '