Monday, May 21, 2012

New York : Brooklyn Bridge (story of an Iron Lady)

There are two iconic bridges in New York that I believe almost every tourist who visit. They are namely the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge.

I take special interest in the Brooklyn Bridge for a fact that it was built way back in the 1883 spanning 1595.5 feet across the East River and was the longest suspension bridge then until 1903 and was then the first steel wire suspension bridge. What is even more intriguing is the story of misfortune and setbacks but above all, the determination and the courage shown by a WOMAN whom in my opinion was the all important column of the success of the bridge .....

View of the Brooklyn Bridge across the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn, taken from the Manhattan Bridge ....

The bridge was originally designed by a German immigrant by the name of John Augustus Roebling. Unfortunately, he was injured while conducting a survey during the construction and was killed subsequently as a result of the infection from the injury. The task was then passed on to his 32 year son, Washington Roebling. Shortly after taking over the project, Washington then became paralysed as a result of decompression sickness.

Now, any ordinary person would throw in the towel and gave up. After all, the construction has brought nothing but misfortune and bad luck. And if I was Washington, I would be thinking, "Who on this bloody earth now could take over such a massive project? I can't even WALK!"

With Washington paralysed, his wife, Emily Warren Roebling stepped in to take over and became the critical link between Washington and the workers. Becoming her husband assistant, she was instrumental for the following 14 years in the completion of this magnificent structure.

She was the `first female field engineer' and not only had to deal with the workers, site issues, project management but also to manage the politicians, bad press, publicity and `office politics'. 

Her devotion and determination coupled with her commitment to see the completion of the bridge earned her a special mention in the bridge opening ceremony's speech by Abram Stevens Hewitt's (Mayor of New York),

" everlasting monument to the sacrificing devotion of a woman and her capacity for that higher education from which she has been too long disbarred ..."

This, my dear friends, is truly an IRON LADY of whom we must never forget nor fail to honour whenever we cross the Brooklyn Bridge ....

And to think the story ends here .....oh NO!

Six days after the opening of the bridge, a rumor that the bridge was collapsing, caused a stampede that killed 12 people! And how do you quash such rumors way back in 1903? P.T. Barnum while publicizing his circus lead 12 elephants to walk across the bridge! And the rest is history ....

1 comment:

  1. Always see this bridge thru movies only... Never had a chance to witness its beauty yet.... Hehe