“Brooklyn Bridge: Celebrating 140 Years of German-American Engineering Collaboration in New York City”

New York.
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the symbols of New York. Now the bridge is 140 years old – also thanks to an engineer from Thuringia.

It only takes a few steps for the first German tourists to run into the German Consul General David Gill on the Brooklyn Bridge.

“Do you know how old the bridge is?” Gill asks a father and his son from Rheine in North Rhine-Westphalia. “140 years! A great structure!” The two New York visitors look around and agree: “Definitely very impressive.”

On Wednesday (May 24) it will be exactly 140 years since the stone Bridge across the East River between the districts of Manhattan and Brooklyn – designed by engineer Johann August Roebling, who was born in Mühlhausen in Thuringia in 1806.

From Manhattan to Brooklyn

On the occasion of the anniversary, Consul General Gill, together with the New York Traffic Officer Ydanis Rodríguez, walked from Manhattan to Brooklyn over the now world-famous bridge in bright sunshine and was presented with an original stone from the bridge’s construction.

“This bridge is a great combination of German engineering and American entrepreneurship – a true German-American cooperation,” says Gil. “People, cars and trolleys have been crossing this bridge for 140 years, it’s still standing – and will probably continue to do so for at least 140 more years.”

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When it opened in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge, with its neo-Gothic piers spanned by a picturesque network of steel cables, was America’s first suspension bridge, the longest in the world – and was considered a marvel of engineering.

It is now a world-famous, much-used and also frequently restored landmark of the city, attracts locals and tourists en masse and has inspired architects, artists, filmmakers and poets like no other building.

Bauplaner came from Germany

However, the bridge did not bring luck to the planner Roebling, who was born in Germany and emigrated to the USA in 1831: one of his feet was smashed during surveying work, and a few weeks later he died of tetanus – long before the 13-year construction work was completed.

His son Washington took over. In order to be able to anchor the two bridge piers deep in the riverbed, he experimented with compressed air chambers that had not been tried and tested until then. As a result, he became seriously ill with diving sickness – and was only able to observe the construction progress through binoculars from the window of his apartment in Brooklyn.

From then on, his wife Emily watched over the construction site – who was also the first to be allowed to cross the new bridge in a carriage at the inauguration. In addition to thousands of flag-waving New Yorkers, then US President Chester Arthur also did the honors.

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In the beginning, a toll had to be paid for crossing the Brooklyn Bridge – today, an average of around 116,000 cars, 3,000 bicycles and 30,000 pedestrians can cross it for free. There are now more bridges and tunnels.

People initially unconvinced by the building

According to legend, New Yorkers were initially skeptical about crossing the almost two-kilometer-long bridge, whose pillars were higher than all the houses and steeples in the city at the time, Consul General Gill says after arriving in Brooklyn.

“The city fathers asked themselves: How can one gain people’s trust in this bridge? One then considered: What is difficult in this city? elephants! The local ringmaster has been asked to bring all his elephants and camels up the Brooklyn Bridge to show people that the bridge is solid.

And it was then about a year after the opening of the bridge that the ringmaster from New York led his 21 elephants and 17 camels over the bridge and from that day on New Yorkers believed that the bridge would hold.

More articles from this category can be found here: Travel

2023-05-28 12:34:42

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