This past Thursday, I was reminded by an article in The Wall Street Journal by Carrie Melago that the Brooklyn Bridge would shortly reach another milestone in its long history. In her article, titled Celebrating 130 Years of the Brooklyn Bridge, she talks about the bridge and its significance to both New York and to America. Included in her article is a link to an exceptional slide show of 24 images that span the history of the bridge from its construction through November 2012.
The bridge officially opened on May 24, 1883 with spectacular fireworks and a stunning assemblage of sail and steam vessels in the East River as shown in the bird’s-eye view below. That image is part of the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Great Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time it was constructed, symbolized the feeling in America that all things were possible.
For me, the Brooklyn Bridge holds a special place in my memory. In between library careers, I worked for a number of years in the culinary field. The first job I landed, fresh out of The Culinary Institute of America, was as a line cook at The River Cafe in Brooklyn, NY. The restaurant is on a barge in the East River, tucked neatly under The Great Bridge. Its unique location offers a spectacular view of the New York skyline. Each day and evening, as I came and left the restaurant, I was serenaded by the sounds of vehicles making their way across the bridge. You can get an idea of what it sounded like by listening to the sound clips in the National Public Radio story titled The Changing Sound of the Brooklyn Bridge. Professional sound technician / recordist Andy Aaron captured the sounds of the bridge during the same year that I was working at The River Cafe. For me, it was sad to learn that changes had been made over the years that eliminated that unique quality of the bridge forever.
If your would like to learn more about the Brooklyn Bridge and the amazing people who designed and built it, I recommend that you read The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David G. McCullough. It is available at the Fountaindale Public Library.
– Tom D.