Overview

Sadly, one man deprived of this view was the bridge’s designer, John Roebling. The Prussian-born engineer’s foot was crushed in an accident on Fulton Landing in June 1869; he died of tetanus poisoning a few weeks later, before construction even began. His son, Washington Roebling, took over the work, which lasted 14 years and managed to survive budget overruns and the deaths of an estimated 27 workers. The younger Roebling himself suffered from the bends (decompression sickness) while helping to excavate the riverbed for the bridge’s western tower and remained bedridden within sight of the bridge for much of the project. His wife, Emily, also blessed with mathematical and engineering gifts, oversaw construction in his stead. Another tragedy came in June 1883, when the bridge opened to pedestrian traffic: a bottleneck of pedestrians, a woman falling on the stairs and some panicked cries set off a frenzied rush in which 12 people were trampled to death and dozens more were seriously injured.

Structural repairs that began in 2010 are expected to continue until 2022 – though they’re a hassle and can make bridge entrances harder to spot, it’s still possible to cross. Renovations of the towers, archways, and brick facades began in fall 2019 and are expected to continue into 2023.

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