"East River Bridge Plan of one Tower"
"East River Bridge Plan of one Tower" [Brooklyn Bridge]

By John A. Roebling, 1867
Ink on tracing linen
48" x 28 1/2 "
National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers

Tunnels and Bridges for New York
German-born John A. Roebling and his son, Washington A. Roebling, designed and built the famous Brooklyn Bridge connecting the cities of New York and Brooklyn. The remarkable design used Roebling's patented system of steel wire cable construction. When it was completed in 1883, the 1,595-foot main span was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Its graceful limestone and granite towers took 5 years to build and were designed with two large openings for the roadway. When John Roebling died of tetanus, the result of an on-site injury, his son became chief engineer of the project. The younger Roebling supervised construction of the foundation, spending long hours in the pneumatic caissons at the bottom of the river. This new method of underwater construction used air pressure to keep the work site dry while the bridge foundation was being built. After one 12-hour session, Roebling was brought to the surface unconscious, suffering from "the bends." Although his health was permanently damaged and he was never able to return to the site, he continued to direct the work from his nearby home by using a telescope.

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