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The Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline in 1925.
Photo by Irving Underhill.

Can you find the Brooklyn Bridge in this aerial photograph? Do you see any other landmarks? Take a guess and then roll over to see if you are right!

Even if you have never seen the Brooklyn Bridge, you may have heard of it. The Brooklyn Bridge is the first bridge ever built between Brooklyn and Manhattan. At the time it was finished in 1883, it was famous for being the biggest bridge in the world - stretching 1595 and 1/2 feet across the East River! Here are some other...

Total length of bridge, including the part on land: 5,989 feet
Total height of the bridge towers above water: 276 feet and 6 inches
Height of bridge towers below water: 44 feet 6 inches on the Brooklyn side, 78 feet 6 inches on the New York side.
Total weight of the bridge: approx.14,680 tons
Total strength of bridge cables: approx. 98,488 tons
Actual weight on bridge cables: approx. 12,000 tons
Thickness of bridge cables: 15 and 3/4 inches
Number of years it took to complete the bridge: 14
Number of people it took to build the bridge: approx. 4,000
Cost of the bridge: approx. $15 million in 1883; or about $1 billion in today's currency!


How else do you think people got across the river?

This is a view of the East River and the Manhattan skyline in 1841 from Peck Slip, Brooklyn. Have you seen the East River yourself lately? Would you say that there is this much water traffic today?



John A. Roebling
1806 - 1869

Washington A. Roebling
1837 - 1926

Emily Warren Roebling
1843 - 1903

Ideas for many different types of bridges and tunnels were discussed for more than 50 years before the Brooklyn Bridge was built. There was even an idea for a bridge that would float on the water. What do you think made it so difficult to decide?

The New York Bridge Company finally chose a bridge design by the well-respected engineer John Roebling. When he passed away only two years into the project, his son Washington took over. Eventually Washington himself became very ill, so his wife Emily managed the project and made sure that the construction went according to plans.
Connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan What's a Suspension Bridge? Construction Countdown Explore More Explore More
* All photos and drawings in this section courtesy of the Brooklyn Public Library - Brooklyn Collection and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.