Bridging a path to a modern city.

John Augustus Roebling was a man with vision. He envisaged building suspension bridges which at the time had been known to fail under strong winds ad heavy loads. These opinions did not phase Roebling who, with the addition of a web truss, managed to transform the suspension bridge to a much more secure structure. It was based on this achievement that led to the New York legislators approving his plans to build a suspension bridge which would connect the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn over the East River.

Image 1. Plan of a tower for East River Bridge. (drawn with ink on trace linen)

The bridge cost $15 million to build, and took over 600 workers to build. Work began on the bridge in 1869 under the supervision of Washington A. Roebling, after his father John passed away following an incident while taking measurements for the bridge. The bridge was completed in 1883 and was soon opened to the public. The bridge provided a simple connection for both cars, cyclists and pedestrians to cross from Brooklyn to Manhattan in only a few minutes.


Image 2: Brooklyn Bridge connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn

The bridge not only provided an easy connection between two vast boroughs, but a new area for socializing. The bridge became popular amongst residents of both Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as tourists, but particularly amongst the upper class. This was mainly due to the bridges location. At the time, the bridge stood high above both cities low lying buildings thus allowing the people to view the city developing and change as time went on.

Image 3: The promenade on Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge was a modern idea. It dared to push boundaries by connecting two boroughs by road and by footpath. It also epitomises Michel De Certeau’s concept of space centring around direction movement and velocity.


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Richard Dennis (2008). Cities in modernity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p1-9

Matthew Keating 112411268


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