24th May
It was on this day...
1883 Brooklyn Bridge Opens

It took 14 years to build and 27 people lost their lives building it. It was one of the most spectacular engineering achievements of it's time, and the largest suspension bridge ever completed at that time in history. It would connect New York to Brooklyn for the first time, and eventually served as the catalyst for the creation of Greater New York City in 1898.

The opening ceremony was presided over by President Chester A Arthur, and New York Governor, Grover Cleveland. The senior designer was John A Roebling, who died while taking final compass readings across the East River. His son, Washington A Roebling, 32, took over as chief engineer.

The first person across the bridge was Emily Roebling, wife of William, who rode across it with a rooster, a symbol of victory.

In the first 24 hours it is estimated that 250,000 people walked across the broad promenade on the Bridge designed for pedestrians.

The foundations of the Bridge were built in timber caissons (watertight chambers) 44 feet underwater on the Brooklyn side and 78 feet on the New York side. This caused serious illness in those that worked in the chambers as little was known about underwater construction and compression sickness (the "bends"*) at the time. Washington Roebling himself was taken ill with the bends, but survived, albeit bed ridden.

*The bends is when nitrogen bubbles appear in the blood stream when a human body is decompressed quickly from underwater (ie comes up to the surface too fast).

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Other News
1929 The Marx Brothers' first film, The Cocoanuts, opens at the Rialto Theater in Los Angeles.

1974 Jazz legend Duke Ellington dies, age 75.

1976 The first Concorde flight from London and Paris to Washington DC. The supersonic flight took 4 hours.

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