JUST how far would you go to prove a point? How about having elephants march on the wooden planks to get a message through?
Yes, twenty-one elephants and thrown in the whole circus caboodle. That’s what it took to finally rid the doubts of the locals that the new bridge in their city, the longest suspension bridge in the globe when it was completed, was very stable.
That certainly did the trick. The New Yorkers were pacified and P.T. Barnum got good advertising for the circus show in town. Is it safe to say that the creators of Brooklyn Bridge had Jumbo, then the circus’ main attraction, to thank for after all?
Though the “elephant parade” took place a year after the bridge’s 1883 official opening, the hype further proved that the bridge was structurally sound. This, after the stampede transpired six days after the opening (1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people crossed on day one) when a rumor was spread that the bridge was going to collapse killing about a dozen people.
But look what it is now—a landmark and icon of New York City, a designated National Historic Landmark (in 1964) and a National Civil Engineering Landmark (in 1972), floodlit at night since the 1980s. This is one of the places where people from all around the globe make a stop whenever they make it to the Big Apple, perhaps walk (or bike) the 1,595-meter total span and have take home a souvenir shot. Add my name to the list of growing numbers.
The Brooklyn Bride, originally referred to as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge, is one of the oldest suspension bridges in America and was the first steel-wire suspension bridge constructed, and the only land passage between Manhattan and Brooklyn back then. It was designed by John Augustus Roebling, a German immigrant, in neo-Gothic architecture style with characteristic pointed arches above the passageways through the stone towers. The son and wife tandem of Washington and Emily Warren Roebling (who was the first person to cross the bridge) took over the project after his death. The 26-meter wide bride used to carry elevated trains and streetcars in the past but today it’s open for access to motor vehicles and pedestrians only.
On May 24, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was opened for use with Emily Warren Roebling as the first person to cross the bridge, and 129 years later on November 25, 2012, Jinggoy Salvador walked the bridge for the first time. Both were momentous events in their own right.
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