An absolutely fascinating account of the politics, financing, innovations, personal courage, engineering, tragedy and determination involved in the 14 year trip to completion. This story is guaranteed to cause you to look at any bridge or other great structure with a new set of insights and awe. I spent lots of time in the shadow of this bridge near City Hall Park and now I will not feel complete until I walk across it and see the vista of New York harbor from the vantage point offered only from the main span.
Great read. Very techinical, so a little hard to get through sometimes, but VERY educational and interesting. Glad I read it.
This was an absolutely fascinating history of the conception and building of the Brooklyn Bridge which took 14 years to complete from 1869 to 1883. It tells the story of John Roebling who originally planned the bridge. He died before it could be constructed which left the work to his son, Colonel Washington Roebling, a Civil War veteran and who had assisted his father in building other bridges including the bridge over the Ohio River at Cincinnati.
The book goes into great detail on the construction of the bridge and was very enlightening on how it was even possible. This included the construction of two mammoth "caissons" which were like boxes sunk into the river bed to allow men to work under air pressure to excavate the rocks and sand beneath. As the refuse was dug out, the towers of the bridge were built on top of the caissons until they reached bedrock. This work resulted in many of the workers getting "caisson disease
" or the bends as it is commonly called. At the time, little was known about the disease and how to prevent or cure it. Washington Roebling was also afflicted with it which made him an invalid during much of the bridge construction. After the two stone towers were complete, the massive cables were strung using steel wire. Some of the descriptions of the men working on the cables actually gave me a feeling of vertigo; I've always had a fear of heights and how men can work at altitudes without fear always amazes me.
In addition to the bridge construction, the book tells of the politics involved including possible fraud and kickbacks. The infamous Boss Tweed was on the board of directors for the bridge along with others who may have had their own self interests at heart rather than the interests of Brooklyn and New York.
The book really makes you feel awe for how large engineering projects were ever even feasible. I have been to New York a couple of times but have never walked over the Brooklyn Bridge. If I ever make it there again, that will be one of my top priorities!
History that reads like a great novel.
This is such a good story and very well-written.
Beautiful Gift copy! This is one of the best books that I have ever read.Beginning with the dad architect dying at the beginning of the bridge in 1870, with his reluctant architect son taking over. This bridge is in excellent condition and still being used by auto traffic today which it was not designed for. This bridge should be one of the wonders of the modern world. Beginning with the supporting pylons going deep into the earth below the river bottom in shafts some died of the bends. That was the most dangerous part some lives were lost in the above ground buildings. Over the 14 year construction period political empires fell.This is also a sweeping narrative of the social climate and the heroes, including the architect's wife whom was a wise, smart and powerful woman who saved her husband by her sheer nerve. This book is a super drama of the time period of 1870-1884. I could not put this book down.