NYC’s Golden Age of Bridge Building | Via
These days, we tend to think of New York’s bridges as traffic obstacles. But at the turn of the last century, the bridges that sprang up in thickets around Manhattan’s shores were objects of wonder and civic pride—near magical pieces of infrastructure that took many years (and lives) to build.
A New York Times article about the New Tappan Zee Bridge this week included a wonderful log of construction photos from the original crossing, which got under way in 1952. That was relatively late, compared to most of the city’s great bridges, and it made me wonder what other photos were floating around out there—not only of the Tappan Zee, but of the great boom in bridge building that began in the 1870s and lasted until the 1920s.
These were the years when the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge, and the Queensboro Bridge were all built. The years when 27 workers (including the lead engineer) died building the Brooklyn Bridge, and when 30 died to build the “New East River Bridge,” aka the Williamsburg Bridge. When getting home from work could mean swinging from a single line of rope.