[ download Textbooks ] The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn BridgeAuthor David McCullough – Bilb-weil.de

Published on the fortieth anniversary of its initial publication, this edition of the classic book contains a new Preface by David McCullough, one of our most gifted living writers The Washington PostBuilt to join the rapidly expanding cities of New York and Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge was thought by many at the start to be an impossibility destined to fail if not from insurmountable technical problems then from political corruption It was the heyday of Boss Tweed in New YorkBut the Brooklyn Bridge was at once the greatest engineering triumph of the age, a surpassing work of art, a proud American icon, and a story like no other in our history Courage, chicanery, unprecedented ingenuity and plain blundering, heroes, rascals, all the best and worst in human nature played a part At the center of the drama were the stricken chief engineer, Washington Roebling and his remarkable wife, Emily Warren Roebling, neither of whom ever gave up in the face of one heartbreaking setback after another The Great Bridge is a sweeping narrative of a stupendous American achievement that rose up out of its era like a cathedral, a symbol of affirmation then and still in our time


10 thoughts on “The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge

  1. Kalliope Kalliope says:

    I first became interested in the story behind the design and building of the Brooklyn Bridge a few years ago when I watched the TV documentary New York by Ric Burns In one of the episodes it focused on this land and river mark on its novelty, its innovations and the human tragedy that it also brought about.Around that time also I read, and was fascinated by, David McCullough s The Path Between the Seas I have therefore wanted to read this book for several years.I have to acknowledge, thoug I first became interested in the story behind the design and building of the Brooklyn Bridge a few years ago when I watched the TV documentary New York by Ric Burns In one of the episodes it focused on this land and river mark on its novelty, its innovations and the human tragedy that it also brought about.Around that time also I read, and was fascinated by, David McCullough s The Path Between the Seas I have therefore wanted to read this book for several years.I have to acknowledge, though, that though I have enjoyed greatly learningabout this historical episode of human ingenuity, McCullough s treatment was too good for me I have felt that I was facing far too large a load of information when reading it The descriptions of technical details were often over my head As I am a visual person, I neededgraphs than textual accounts, so I resorted to the web for additional videos, graphs and drawings I enjoyed the way McCullough puts the building of the bridge in the context of similar and earlier engineering feats There are so many aspects in the structure of this bridge, that one cannot say that it is The First except in a few of its characteristics The building took from 1869 to 1883, so it is to be expected that during the fourteen years many incidents happened most were related to the Brooklyn enterprise directly and some indirectly, as it happened with the tragedy of the Tay Bridge disaster in Scotland in 1879.The most fascinating part of the construction was the design and sinking of the two huge caissons structures that were different and had to be dealt with differently at either side, the Brooklyn and the Manhattan sides the latter having to go a great deal deeper than the former.Also over my head went the stories of the local politics both at the city level and at the corporate level These sections I scanned for the most part except for a couple of episodes Most fascinating of all was the account around the highly corrupt Boss Tweed, politician and significant landowner, and his fall after the Orange Riot of 1871.The most engaging aspect was however the human Learning about the outstanding Roebling family the father, the son, the other sons, and particularly the wife of the son is sufficient for recommending the book.In particular Washington Roebling 1837 1927 , the eldest son, stands out Not just for what he did he was right in that we should consider him as the maker of the bridge and not his father but also for his personality Men like him are enigmatic How can one accumulate exactly the right qualities that are required when one s role is extremely difficult With his health severely damaged from an early age, he however outlived them all May be his life was suspended from an invisible thread of supernatural steel And he married the right woman Emily Warren Roebling 1843 1903 comes across as the angel of steel, also wonderfully suspended over the construction of the bridge taking over the responsibilities of the Chief Engineer when her husband became too weak.As with the Panama story when not just engineering but a biological and medical obstacle had to be solved, malaria also here the physiological problem made the building projectcomplicated The effects on the human body when going down to great depths were not understood Some investigation on the effects on people when submerging had been done in France but the new and greater depths required in the sinking and reinforcement of the Brooklyn Bridge caissons was occasioning the little understood Bends that took several lives Indeed, the too fast decompression that the workers endured is also what severely damaged the health of Washington Roebling himself.This is a great read even if for some readers McCullough s astounding command of data and fastidiousness in his narration can leave as if one had sunk in one of the Caissons But when closing the book one is certainly going to feel differently when crossing this marvelous bridge.I understand there is a documentary by Ken Burns on this Bridge, solidly based on this book, but I have not seen it.This is the one I have


  2. Chrissie Chrissie says:

    If you haven t read a book by David McCullough you are missing a VERY good author He writes non fiction He works in collaboration with a large staff Some people may call that cheating, but I don t care b c everything he writes is thoroughly investigated, interesting and expressed with flair His books are never dry, never boring He knows what to put in and what to leave out Here he writes about the Brooklyn Bridge How in the world can you write about a bridge and make it fascinating He ha If you haven t read a book by David McCullough you are missing a VERY good author He writes non fiction He works in collaboration with a large staff Some people may call that cheating, but I don t care b c everything he writes is thoroughly investigated, interesting and expressed with flair His books are never dry, never boring He knows what to put in and what to leave out Here he writes about the Brooklyn Bridge How in the world can you write about a bridge and make it fascinating He has succeeded Again The book covers all the details related to the making of the Brooklyn Bridge, from conception to completion It is also a biography of two amazing people, John Augustus Roebling 1806 1869 , a German immigrant and engineer who conceived of and designed the bridge, and his son Washington Augustus Roebling 1837 1926 who was the chief engineer during the bridge s construction from 1869 1883 It is also about Emily Warren Roebling, Washington s first wife she played an essential role in the making of the bridge It is a book about the two cities, New York City and Brooklyn, which came to be linked by the creation of the bridge It is about the political corruption of the era I am sure you ve heard of the shenanigans of Tammany Hall, well here they are again People that really get you mad It is about how the bridge forever changed New York City It was a time of great innovation played out and shaped by the people of this great metropolis The bigwigs, the politicians, the business men, the artisans, the immigrants, the small people and the big, the dreamers and the workers.Read this book to meet Washington Roebling His engagement is utterly inspirational When mistakes were made he never shirked his responsibility and he wanted the Board of Trustees to shoulder their responsibility too In making a solid foundation for the bridge, workers excavated the riverbed using massive wooden boxes called caissons These airtight chambers were pressed to the river s floor by mammoth granite blocks pressurized air was pumped in to keep water and rubble out Workers succumbed to what is today known as caisson disease , decompression sickness or the bends joint pain, numbness, paralysis, convulsions and sometimes death Very little of this was understood then In 1870 Washington Roebling worked from within a caisson to extinguish a fire that had broken out Working often alongside men in the caissons he too came to suffer from the disease, as well as other nervous ailments I would have appreciated ain depth discussion of his medical problems resulting from decompression sickness Probably he also suffered from what is known as neurasthenia and perhaps secondary drug addiction Due to his illnesses he worked in close corroboration with his wife holding his position as chief engineer in absentia That he could later in 1921 become president of John A Roebling s Sons Company at age 84 is hard to comprehend It is for this reason I would have liked a fuller understanding of what afflicted him I did have trouble sometimes understanding the minute and detailed description of the component parts of the bridge construction Yet I never felt that even the details which I didn t completely understand should be removed A picture says simply what a thousand words try to explain I did look in internet for detailed drawings but you needthan just a diagram What you really need is someone pointing out the respective parts of the diagram to fully understand Listening and listening and still not completely understanding was frustrating to me I listened to the audiobook narrated by Nelson Runger He does a totally fantastic job He reads slowly He reads clearly He reads with feeling When the bridge is completed, the author s lines and Runger s intonation allows one to appreciate the beauty and the magnificence of what had been created There was a huge celebration with firecrackers, with bells tolling, whistles shrilling, firecrackers, tugs tooting, children scrambling and huge crowds marveling at the spectacle I felt like I was there When the electric lights of the bridge were first illuminated I could feel the wonder of the lights and the two dark stone towers, along with the thousands that watched.An epilog completes the book so you know what happens to the central characters in the years after the bridge is completed


  3. David David says:

    This is an engaging history of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge The bridge was one of the greatest engineering feats of its time The book goes into great detail about the bridge itself, its design and construction techniques But most of the book is devoted to the people involved And the two people who were most involved were father and son, John and Washington Roebling Thus, the book can also be classified as a biography These two men had a great vision, and the skills and experience to This is an engaging history of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge The bridge was one of the greatest engineering feats of its time The book goes into great detail about the bridge itself, its design and construction techniques But most of the book is devoted to the people involved And the two people who were most involved were father and son, John and Washington Roebling Thus, the book can also be classified as a biography These two men had a great vision, and the skills and experience to bring the vision to a reality John Roebling made the initial design Washington Roebling carried it out He was a very competent man he was a hero during the American Civil War.A lot of the book also centers on the huge amount of corruption that engulfed many political figures in New York The immense undertaking gave plenty of opportunities for roguish figures to get rich There is an amazing story about how a steel contractor delivered sub par quality of steel So, Roebling had inspectors go to the warehouse at the point where the steel was being sent out, to ensure that the steel met the specifications But lo and behold, the steel that arrived at the bridge was found to still be sub quality It turned out that in mid trip to the bridge site, the carriage containing high grade steel had been switched with another containing low grade steel Another interesting aspect of the story is how many of the workers who worked at great atmospheric pressure inside the caissons were subjected to the bends At the time, the cause of this malady was unknown It was finally realized that it could be alleviated by rising up to atmospheric pressureslowly but the rate was still too fast Washington Roebling himself encountered a near fatal exposure to the bends.This is a well researched, comprehensive history of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the men who worked on it, designed it, and managed it It is also an insightful look at the politicians of the time I recommend this book to all who are interested in a good history


  4. James Van Duker James Van Duker says:

    When I picked up this book, I was daring McCullough to get me to read the whole thing How could a 562 page book about a bridge not to meantion an antiquated bridge, not the modern technological wonders of today keep me going that long, I thought Yet I had heard reviewsI had to find out what they were talking about I finished the book in two weeks, and as it turns out, it s not just a book about a bridge that really would be boring , it s a book about the people and events in one of When I picked up this book, I was daring McCullough to get me to read the whole thing How could a 562 page book about a bridge not to meantion an antiquated bridge, not the modern technological wonders of today keep me going that long, I thought Yet I had heard reviewsI had to find out what they were talking about I finished the book in two weeks, and as it turns out, it s not just a book about a bridge that really would be boring , it s a book about the people and events in one of them most famous, celebrated, and exciting times in American history A time when people were choosing to expand westward and upward when iron and coal were king a time when anyone could be anything it was America s time of manifest destiny, and the building of the bridge was a symbol of it all east west expansion, independence, unity, power, technology, urbanization, money, politics, corruption, immigration, just to name a few True to McCulloughs style, he finds those larger than life people engineers, politicians, soldiers, seedy crooks, and socialites and tells their fascinating stories in the context of the building of the bridge At times I wondered that McCullough hadn t been an engineer himself the way he described sinking caissons, raising stone towers, stringing steel suspension cables, and constructing trusses I also wondered that McCullough had not personally watched the bridge rise out of the east river as an eyewitness in a former life , and whether in that same former life those dynamic figures in his book had not been his own personal confidants The only negative that I have to say about the book is thatpictures and diagrams would add immensely to his masterful descriptions of such complex things like bridge anchorages and compression caissons He forgot to apply that age old adage a picture is worth a thousand words.The book was definately worth the read The only thing left is to see the bridge for myself


  5. Roy Lotz Roy Lotz says:

    on a day when two young men were walking on the moon, a very old woman on Long Island would tell reporters that the public excitement over the feat was not so much compared to what she had seen on the day they opened the Brooklyn BridgeOn the inside cover of my copy of this book its previous owner has inserted a little love note The brief message is written in a very neat script, in red ink, apparently on the eve of a long separation Now, you may think that a book about the Brooklyn Bon a day when two young men were walking on the moon, a very old woman on Long Island would tell reporters that the public excitement over the feat was not so much compared to what she had seen on the day they opened the Brooklyn BridgeOn the inside cover of my copy of this book its previous owner has inserted a little love note The brief message is written in a very neat script, in red ink, apparently on the eve of a long separation Now, you may think that a book about the Brooklyn Bridge is a rather odd gift for a lover and, considering that the book ended up in a used book shop, this may be what the recipient thought, too but, now that I have read McCullough s chronicle of the Brooklyn Bridge, I can see why it might inspire such sentimental attachment For it is a thoroughly lovable book This is my first McCullough work, and I am pleased He is a fine writer His prose is stylish yet unobtrusive, striking that delicate balance between being intelligible but not simplified He has a keen eye for the exciting details of a seemingly dry story and effectively brings together many different threads the personalities, the politics, the technology in such a way that the past looms up effortlessly in the imagination The only parts which I think could have been improved were his explanations of the engineering, since he used too many unfamiliar terms without explaining them, perhaps thinking that such explanations might swell the book to unseemly proportions In any case, he is a writer, not an engineer, and he shines most when discussing the human experience of the Bridge.The bridge s designer was John A Roebling, who deserves a book unto himself An eccentric polymath, who among other things studied philosophy under Hegel, he came to America to found a Utopian village and ended up the foremost expert on suspension bridges The Brooklyn Bridge was his project but tragically he died during the first year of the project, after his foot was crushed, his toes amputated, and he contracted tetanus His son, Washington, immediately took over in many ways just as remarkable a man A Civil War hero with a tenacious memory, the bridge ruined his health, too, through a combination of stress and the bends In those days the bends were known as caisson sickness, named for the compartment sunk underwater in order to excavate for the bridge s foundations These were filled with pressurized air in order to prevent water from seeping in Unfortunately, back then the dangers of rapidly depressurizing were not understood, so many people fell ill during the construction including Roebling himself, who spent the final years of the bridge s construction as an invalid, observing the work through a telescope from his apartment Luckily for him, his wife, Emily, was a remarkable woman diplomatic and brilliant and helped to carry the project to completion.These personalities come alive in McCullough s narration, turning what could have been a dry chronicle into an enthralling book And this is not to mention the political corruption, the manufacturing fraud, the deadly accidents, and the glorious celebrations that took place during the fourteen years of the bridge s construction.Yesterday I revisited the Brooklyn Bridge, which is beautiful even if you know nothing about it As a friend and I strolled across in the intense summer heat, elbowing our way through crowds of tourists, I blathered on about all the fun facts I had learned from this book which I am sure my friend very much appreciated Sensing his discomfort, I made sure to emphasize that a fraudulent wire manufacturer had tricked the engineers into using sub par cables, and that a panic broke out a week after the bridge s opening, which resulted in twelve people being trampled You see this book has already helped my social life Maybe next I can write my own love note inside


  6. Carol Carol says:

    I ve said it before, and I ll say it again David McCullough is one of the very best authors of all times to me I m not great at history, but he has a way of telling a story that penetrates into my heart and brain and soul such that I actually learn something Then I get excited and start researching and readingandabout whatever topic grabbed me This time being the Brooklyn Bridge Very interesting and a great way to learn about it I m including some very interesting information I I ve said it before, and I ll say it again David McCullough is one of the very best authors of all times to me I m not great at history, but he has a way of telling a story that penetrates into my heart and brain and soul such that I actually learn something Then I get excited and start researching and readingandabout whatever topic grabbed me This time being the Brooklyn Bridge Very interesting and a great way to learn about it I m including some very interesting information I learned in my studies.The Brooklyn Bridge is a hybrid cable stayed suspension bridge in New York City and is one of the oldest roadway bridges in the United States Started in 1869 and completed fourteen years later in 1883, it connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, spanning the East River It has a main span of 1,595.5 feet 486.3 m and was the first steel wire suspension bridge constructed It was originally called the New York and Brooklyn Bridge and the East River Bridge, but it was later dubbed the Brooklyn Bridge, a name coming from an earlier January 25, 1867, letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and formally so named by the city government in 1915 Since opening, it has become an icon of New York City and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1972DESIGN Although the Brooklyn Bridge is technically a suspension bridge, it uses a hybrid cable stayed suspension bridge design The towers are built of limestone, granite, and Rosendale cement The limestone was quarried at the Clark Quarry in Essex County, New York The granite blocks were quarried and shaped on Vinal haven Island, Maine, under a contract with the Bodwell Granite Company, and delivered from Maine to New York by schooner.The bridge was built with numerous passageways and compartments in its anchorages New York City rented out the large vaults under the bridge s Manhattan anchorage in order to fund the bridge Opened in 1876, the vaults were used to store wine, as they were always at 60 F 16 C This was called the Blue Grotto because of a shrine to the Virgin Mary next to an opening at the entrance When New York magazine visited one of the cellars in 1978, it discovered on the wall a fading inscription reading Who loveth not wine, women and song, he remaineth a fool his whole life long CONSTRUCTION The bridge was conceived by German immigrant John Augustus Roebling in 1852, who spent part of the next 15 years working to sell the idea He had previously designed and constructed shorter suspension bridges, such as Roebling s Delaware Aqueduct in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania, and the John A Roebling Suspension Bridge between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Covington, Kentucky While conducting surveys for the bridge project, Roebling sustained a crush injury to his foot when a ferry pinned it against a piling After amputation of his crushed toes, he developed a tetanus infection that left him incapacitated and soon resulted in his death in 1869, not long after he had placed his 32 year old son, Washington Roebling, in charge of the project.In February 1867, the New York State Senate passed a bill that allowed the construction of a suspension bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan Two months later, the New York and Brooklyn Bridge Company was incorporated The company was tasked with constructing what was then known as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge.Construction of the Brooklyn Bridge began in 1869 The bridge s two towers were built by floating two caissons, giant upside down boxes made of southern yellow pine, in the span of the East River, and then beginning to build the stone towers on top of them until they sank to the bottom of the river Compressed air was pumped into the caissons, and workers entered the space to dig the sediment, until the caissons sank to the bedrock The whole weight of the bridge still sits upon 15 foot thick southern yellow pine wood under the sediment.Many workers became sick with the bends during this work This condition was unknown at the time and was first called caisson disease by the project physician, Andrew Smith Washington Roebling suffered a paralyzing injury as a result of caisson disease shortly after ground was broken for the Brooklyn tower foundation on January 3, 1870 Roebling s debilitating condition left him unable to physically supervise the construction firsthand.As chief engineer, Roebling supervised the entire project from his apartment with a view of the work, designing and redesigning caissons and other equipment He was aided by his wife, Emily Warren Roebling, who provided the critical written link between her husband and the engineers on site Warren Roebling studied higher mathematics, calculations of catenary curves, strengths of materials, bridge specifications, and intricacies of cable construction She spent the next 11 years helping to supervise the bridge s construction.When iron probes underneath the caisson for the Manhattan tower found the bedrock to be even deeper than expected, Roebling halted construction due to the increased risk of decompression sickness He later deemed the sandy subsoil overlying the bedrock 30 feet 9.1 m below it to be firm enough to support the tower base, and construction continued.The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge is detailed in The Great Bridge 1972 , the book by David McCullough, and in Brooklyn Bridge 1981 , the first PBS documentary film by Ken Burns Burns drew heavily on McCullough s book for the film and used him as narrator It is also described in Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, a BBC docudrama series with an accompanying book.OPENING The New York and Brooklyn Bridge was opened for use on May 24, 1883 Thousands of people attended the opening ceremony, and many ships were present in the East Bay for the occasion President Chester A Arthur and Mayor Franklin Edson crossed the bridge to celebratory cannon fire and were greeted by Brooklyn Mayor Seth Low when they reached the Brooklyn side tower Arthur shook hands with Washington Roebling at the latter s home, after the ceremony Roebling was unable to attend the ceremony and in fact rarely visited the site again , but held a celebratory banquet at his house on the day of the bridge opening Further festivity included the performance of a band, gunfire from ships, and a fireworks display Since the New York and Brooklyn Bridge was the only one across the East River at that time, it was also called East River Bridge.On that first day, a total of 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people crossed what was then the only land passage between Manhattan and Brooklyn Emily Warren Roebling was the first to cross the bridge The bridge s main span over the East River is 1,595 feet 6 inches 486.3 m The bridge cost US 15.5 million in 1883 dollars about US 393,964,000 in today s dollars to build, and an estimated 27 men died during its construction.On May 30, 1883, six days after the opening, a woman falling down the stairway caused a stampede, which was responsible for at least twelve people being crushed and killed On May 17, 1884, P T Barnum helped to squelch doubts about the bridge s stability while publicizing his famous circus when one of his most famous attractions, Jumbo, led a parade of 21 elephants over the Brooklyn Bridge.At the time it opened, and for several years, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world 50% longer than any previously built and it has become a treasured landmark Since the 1980s, it has been floodlit at night to highlight its architectural features The architectural style is neo Gothic, with characteristic pointed arches above the passageways through the stone towers The paint scheme of the bridge is Brooklyn Bridge Tan and Silver , although it has been argued that the original paint was Rawlins Red.At the time the bridge was built, engineers had not discovered the aerodynamics of bridge construction Bridges were not tested in wind tunnels until the 1950s, well after the collapse of the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge, known as Galloping Gertie, in 1940 It is therefore fortunate that the open truss structure supporting the deck is by its nature less subject to aerodynamic problems Roebling designed a bridge and truss system that was six times as strong as he thought it needed to be Because of this, the Brooklyn Bridge is still standing when many of the bridges built around the same time have vanished or been replaced This is also in spite of the substitution of inferior quality wire in the cabling supplied by the contractor J Lloyd Haigh by the time it was discovered, it was too late to replace the cabling that had already been constructed Roebling determined that the poorer wire would leave the bridge four rather than six times as strong as necessary, so it was eventually allowed to stand, with the addition of 250 cables poorer wire would leave the bridge four rather than six times as strong as necessary, so it was eventually allowed to stand, with the addition of 250 cables.LATER YEARS In 1915, the city government officially named the structure the Brooklyn Bridge , a name first mentioned in print in a January 1867 letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.During the Cold War, a fallout shelter was constructed beneath the Manhattan approach The abandoned space in one of the masonry arches still contained the emergency survival supplies for a potential nuclear attack by the Soviet Union when rediscovered in 2006 during a routine inspection.In 1964, the bridge was designated a National Historic Landmark, having become an icon of New York City since its opening, and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1972.The centennial celebrations on May 24, 1983, saw a cavalcade of cars crossing the bridge, led by President Ronald Reagan A flotilla of ships visited the harbor, parades were held, and in the evening the sky over the bridge was illuminated by Grucci Fireworks The Brooklyn Museum exhibited a selection of the original drawings made for the bridge s construction, some by Washington Roebling Media coverage of the centennial was declared the public relations triumph of 1983 by Inc.Beginning on May 22, 2008, five days of festivities celebrated the 125th anniversary of the bridge s opening The events kicked off with a live performance of the Brooklyn Philharmonic in Empire Fulton Ferry State Park, followed by special lighting of the bridge s towers and a fireworks display Other events held during the 125th anniversary celebrations, which coincided with the Memorial Day weekend, included a film series, historical walking tours, information tents, a series of lectures and readings, a bicycle tour of Brooklyn, a miniature golf course featuring Brooklyn icons, and other musical and dance performances Just before the anniversary celebrations, artist Paul St George installed the Telectroscope, a video link between New York City and London, on the Brooklyn side of the bridge The installation lasted for a few weeks and permitted viewers in New York City to see people looking into a matching telectroscope near London s Tower Bridge A newly renovated pedestrian connection to the DUMBO neighborhood was also unveiled before the anniversary celebrations.RENOVATION After the 2007 collapse of the I 35W highway bridge in Minneapolis, public attention focused on the condition of bridges across the U.S The New York Times reported that the Brooklyn Bridge approach ramps received a rating of poor during its inspection in 2007 According to a NYC Department of Transportation spokesman, the poor rating did not indicate a dangerous state but rather implied it required renovation A US 508 million project equivalent to US 570 million in 2017 to renovate the approaches began in 2010, with the full bridge renovation beginning in early 2011 which was originally scheduled to run until 2014, however the project did not finish until April 2015.Work included widening two approach ramps from one to two lanes by re striping a new prefabricated ramp raising clearance over the eastbound Interstate 278 at York Street, on the double deck Brooklyn Queens Expressway seismic retrofitting replacement of rusted railings and safety barriers and road deck resurfacing The nature of the work necessitated detours for four years.In August 2016, after the renovation of the bridge had already been completed, the New York City Department of Transportation announced that it would conduct a seven month, US 370,000 study to verify if the bridge could support a heavier upper deck that consisted of an expanded bicycle and pedestrian path As of 2016, about 10,000 pedestrians and 3,500 bikers use the pathway on an average weekday Work on the pedestrian entrance on the Brooklyn side was underway by 2017.Great Book HIGHLY RECOMMEND


  7. Jhopec Jhopec says:

    As David McCullough is one of my favorite writers about history, I expected a lot from this book and was not disappointed Aside from the immensely engaging story of the obstacles, both engineering and human, faced and overcome to build the bridge, I was struck once again by the cavalier way most of us take great accomplishments for granted Thank goodness there are people like David McCullough who do not I ve read this book and listened to it a couple of times on CD, and it never fails to fasci As David McCullough is one of my favorite writers about history, I expected a lot from this book and was not disappointed Aside from the immensely engaging story of the obstacles, both engineering and human, faced and overcome to build the bridge, I was struck once again by the cavalier way most of us take great accomplishments for granted Thank goodness there are people like David McCullough who do not I ve read this book and listened to it a couple of times on CD, and it never fails to fascinate


  8. J.M. Hushour J.M. Hushour says:

    In an age when simply knowing a lot about something is enough to see you denigrated and dismissed, it s nice to read a work of history celebrating the Expert and the Expert s achievements It s also telling to read that political wits even in the second half of the 19th century were aware of this, with a journalist saying one engineer like John Roebling was worththan a hall of bickering, petulant politicians.I don t have little to add other than that Like all of McCullough s works, this i In an age when simply knowing a lot about something is enough to see you denigrated and dismissed, it s nice to read a work of history celebrating the Expert and the Expert s achievements It s also telling to read that political wits even in the second half of the 19th century were aware of this, with a journalist saying one engineer like John Roebling was worththan a hall of bickering, petulant politicians.I don t have little to add other than that Like all of McCullough s works, this is a fine history of something you might not necessarily give two shakes about But you should, because although the Brooklyn Bridge is impressive in and of itself, the building of it was a most mythical undertaking As always, McCullough sets the event against its proper backdrop NY politics, Boss Tweed, all the scandalous shenanigans of the time, the Bridge s place amidst other innovations at the time Finally, it is the story of a father and son, John and Washington Roebling, the former who died before work really got going, the latter who took over, despite years of sickness that meant he was mostly directing work from afar, with his wife s help.If you want the real meat of what America as a society can accomplish, stop reading the news and go find your local bridge builder


  9. Kressel Housman Kressel Housman says:

    This is only the second David McCollough book I ve ever read, and my motivation for it was exactly the same as with the last one someone is planning on adapting it into a feature film Unlike that other film, though, a biopic of Teddy Roosevelt s years in the Dakotas that has disappeared from the American Film Company website, this one has an announced starring cast fangirl drumroll DANIEL RADCLIFFE as Washington Roebling Need I sayWell, all right, that Oscar winner Sir Ben Kingsley This is only the second David McCollough book I ve ever read, and my motivation for it was exactly the same as with the last one someone is planning on adapting it into a feature film Unlike that other film, though, a biopic of Teddy Roosevelt s years in the Dakotas that has disappeared from the American Film Company website, this one has an announced starring cast fangirl drumroll DANIEL RADCLIFFE as Washington Roebling Need I sayWell, all right, that Oscar winner Sir Ben Kingsley as his father, John Roebling, and Brie Larson as his wife, Emily I knew nothing about the Roeblings going into this book, so the images of those three actors completely dominated my reading of the book, as did thoughts like, That will translate beautifully into film, and How are they going to pull that one off The books is over 500 pages, and the bridge took fourteen years to build, so naturally, the film will have to skip plenty Truth be told, there s plenty about the book I just skimmed through myself, particularly the engineering sections But David McCollough knows how to weave the human story into the details, and the Roeblings story is ripe for it.The bridge began as the brainchild of engineer John Roebling, already known by then as one of the greatest bridge builders in the world with four significant bridges to his name He won himself backers, but when the building began, he was injured on site and died of tetanus shortly thereafter The descriptions of the violence of his seizures put me right into movie director mode If they stage it the death as the book describes it, Sir Kingsley is going to win another Oscar.John Roebling s son Washington, then in his late twenties, succeeded his father as Chief Engineer of the bridge Because he was so young, there were some who objected to him, but it turned out that nobody understood John Roebling s design and intentions better He was every bit as devoted to the bridge as his father was, and spent almost all of his time on site, solving whatever problems arose, and there were many of them Remember, this was the late nineteenth century There weren t that many machines that could be sent underwater to build the caissons Human beings had to do it, which meant they were subject to a condition that deep sea divers sometimes suffer the bends At worst, the bends were fatal, but at other times, they resulted in paralysis, sometimes temporary and sometimes not When a fire broke out during construction, Washington spent too long submerged underwater fixing the problem that caused it, and he emerged with the bends To make a long story short, he never fully recovered.Washington Roebling s condition varied over the remaining years, but for most of it, he was basically a shut in The most famous image of him, one that the movie will no doubt play up, is of him sitting at the window in his Brooklyn apartment, watching the progress on the bridge Note the binoculars beside him The book said he had a telescope, too So he would watch the bridge s progress, and then dictate instructions to his wife Emily, who would take them down and deliver them to the assistant engineers and mechanics In this way, she became well versed in the principles of engineering herself, sometimes getting credit in the press for being the real brains behind the bridge That she had brains and talent is undeniable, but the truth is that they really were partners Emily was her husband s secretary, nurse, and forewoman She also served as diplomat to the bridge s Board of Directors, and it was in this capacity that he valued her most as there were several attempts to remove him as Chief Engineer As with any major accomplishment, it was a fight every step of the way.Though I didn t really get the engineering sections of this book, I d imagine that for some people, they would be the most interesting part I didn t get all the details of the corruption scandals the bridge faced, either Boss Tweed figured in heavily in the beginning, but worse was a man named J Lloyd Haigh, who supplied the bridge with shoddy wire It could never have happened had Washington Roebling been on site, watching every detail as he did at the beginning But even if there are facts about this story that I missed, here s one that I m pretty sure will stick in the fourteen years it took to build the bridge, both the telephone and the lightbulb were invented In other words, this book is not just about the bridge or the Roeblings it s about the Industrial Revolution Great things were happening Bridges were being built, as were railroads But in order to make our modern world possible, plenty of unknown workmen gave their lives The movie will no doubt pay tribute to the Roeblings and their sacrifices The bridge opening, complete with fireworks, will make one heckuva triumphant scene But if you want to learn about the sacrifices of the average nineteenth century workman, David McCullough doesn t let you forget him either.And on that note, here s my favorite historic picture of the Brooklyn Bridge Jews doing the ritual of tashlich in the early 20th century


  10. Dave Dave says:

    As expected with a David McCullough book, this one is excellent, at least 4.5 5 stars The book encompasses the entire 14 years of construction from 1869 to 1883 Those were years of rapid growth of the country, spanning from immediately after the devastating Civil War, to the dawning of electricity and the edge of the twentieth century McCullough does a good job of giving the reader that historical perspective The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge was an undertaking of mammoth proportions a As expected with a David McCullough book, this one is excellent, at least 4.5 5 stars The book encompasses the entire 14 years of construction from 1869 to 1883 Those were years of rapid growth of the country, spanning from immediately after the devastating Civil War, to the dawning of electricity and the edge of the twentieth century McCullough does a good job of giving the reader that historical perspective The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge was an undertaking of mammoth proportions at that time They attempted things in this project on a scale never before tried The story of the man responsible for the design and construction of the bridge, Washington Roeblings, is as fascinating as the story of the bridge itself Key characters are brought vividly to life I recommend this book to anyone interested in U.S history or the development of the modern industrial age