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Today is Thursday, July 2, 2020

Silent Partner: Building The Brooklyn Bridge

Long Branch:  Dressed as Emily Warren Roebling in period garb; Carol Simon Levin mesmerized the audience at the Free Library in Long Branch on Wednesday evening with a little know story about the very famous Brooklyn Bridge.  The bridge that today connects Brooklyn to the City of New York.

After he received an honorable discharge from the Union Army during the Civil War, Washington Roebling returned home and married Emily Warren.  Washington Roebling worked for his father, John Roebling, the famous bridge builder.  After a horrific accident killed John Roebling, the younger Roebling took over the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.  

By the 1860's, ferries made more than 1,000 crossings of the East River back and forth between Brooklyn and Manhattan.  During the coldest winter on record (1866-1867) when the river froze solid, it was realized that a bridge needed to be built.  Not until 1869, were final plans approved and construction begun on the Brooklyn Bridge.  The bridge's construction took 14 years.

When Washington Roebling fell ill with caisson disease, (today it is know as "the bends"), Emily Warren Roebling took over as his eyes, ears, hands, feet and voice of the very important project.  Although she had no formal education in engineering, Emily brought her questions back to Washington who oversaw the project from his sick room.  Emily helped make the longest suspension bridge of its kind at the time a reality, it's cost $10 million to $15 million.  Today the cost to build the Brooklyn Bridge might run $320 million conservatively.

The project was know as, "The Pathway to the Sky" and quickly became a tourist attraction. It is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the U.S. today and on a daily basis carries more than 150,000 vehicles and pedestrians.

Today the bridge,more than 125 years old links two very important boroughs and can be seen looming majestically over the skyline, all because of a woman dressed in petticoats. 

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