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Great American Infrastructure: The Brooklyn Bridge

Posted by Infra on Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

This is the fifth in a series of entries celebrating infrastructure achievements in the United States.


What: The Brooklyn Bridge is a suspension bridge that connects the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn over the East River.

When: Construction of the bridge began in 1870. The Brooklyn Bridge opened for service in 1883.

Why: The bridge was created to link the two then-growing cities of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Cost: $15.1 million; more than twice the original estimate of $7 million.


  • Total Length: 5,989 feet
  • Width: 85 feet
  • Longest span: 1,595.6 feet

Interesting facts: The Brooklyn Bridge, when completed in 1883, stood as the longest suspension bridge in the world. A record it held until 1903.

Originally referred to as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge, as well as the East River Bridge, it was dubbed “the Brooklyn Bridge” in an 1867 letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The name was officially adopted by the city government in 1915.

One week after opening, a rumor that the bridge was going to collapse caused a stampede that crushed and killed at least ten people. To prove the bridge’s strength, P.T. Barnum marched a parade of 21 elephants across it.

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