Part One: Building the Bridge (04:07)
See images of the bridge and hear a quote from "Harper's Weekly" in 1883. It was designed by civil engineer John Roebling and finished by his son.
Roebling grew up in Germany where he studied engineering and philosophy. He moved to Pennsylvania and founded Sachsenburg where he started the first wire rope factory in America.
Early Bridges (02:10)
Roebling designed the Niagara Bridge and the bridge over the Allegheny River at Pittsburgh. His son Washington Roebling took over construction of the biggest suspension bridge in the world.
Roebling was appointed Chief Engineer of the New York and Brooklyn Bridge Company. Washington Roebling had to take over after his father's death. He designed complex caissons.
Caissons 1869-1872 (03:50)
Learn how a caisson is grounded on bedrock. The difficulties and dangers of sinking large caissons could not be predicted. Roebling designed every feature.
Friday December 2, 1870 (04:59)
The caisson of the East River bridge was damaged by fire. High atmospheric pressure in the Brooklyn caisson killed some workers and made others sick including Roebling.
East River Bridge Brooklyn Tower 1870-1876 (04:10)
Roebling was never seen on the bridge site after falling ill with caisson disease. He supervised work from his bedroom window using his wife to communicate instructions.
In 1871, William Marcy Tweed, a board member of the New York and Brooklyn Bridge Company was put in jail. America's 100th anniversary was celebrated with a World's Fair in Philadelphia.
Cable Making 1876-1878 (04:09)
The four main suspension cables would be constructed in place. J. Lloyd Haigh was arrested for forgery after submitting bad wire rope to be used on the bridge.
Roadway 1878-1883 (04:23)
Work on the bridge slowed as metal deliveries were delayed. Trustees attempted to remove Roebling. Emily was the first person to cross the finished bridge.
Part Two: The Brooklyn Bridge (03:55)
Author David McCullough notes that the bridge was built by hand in the "horse and buggy days." The monument meets shared needs of society.
Joy of Walking the Bridge (03:58)
Henry Jones was a waterboy when the Brooklyn Bridge was being built. It was higher than most people had ever been.
Roebling died after his long struggle with decompression sickness. Children try to build a replica out of wood planks.
Bridge Art (02:43)
See drawings and paintings of bridges by Joseph Stella, John Marin, Albert Gleizes, Georgia O'Keeffe, Ericka Klein, Berenice Abbott, Walker Evans, Edward Steichen, and Bill Arnold.
Gothic Archway (05:04)
Mumford, McCullough, and Arthur Miller reflect on the beauty and importance of the Brooklyn Bridge
Credits: Ken Burns: The Brooklyn Bridge (01:30)
Credits: Ken Burns: The Brooklyn Bridge
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