On this date in 1883, the now-world-famous Brooklyn Bridge opened to the public for the first time. We’ve touched on the topic of suspension bridges here on AtomicToasters before, but the Brooklyn Bridge remains one of the most distinguished examples around the world for several reasons.
First and foremost, it’s still standing, and still in daily use, which is more than can be said of most bridges — and especially suspension bridges — of its era. The main reason is that it was designed to be roughly six times stronger than it would ever need to be. In an era long before bridge designs would be tested (by engineerd) in a wind-tunnel, its designer, John Roebling, simply over-engineered his design to the point of excess.
It is also significant in that the project was overseen largely by a woman; when John Roebling passed away, his son, Washington Roebling took over the reigns. But shortly after construction began, the second Roebling suffered a paralyzing injury as a result of decompression sickness. His wife, Emily Roebling, became the overseer in his absence, having been taught by her husband virtually everything he knew about the craft. Under her guidance, the bridge was completed, and remains not only a landmark, but an architectural wonder, over a century later.