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1903: Opening of Williamsburg Bridge

The Williamsburg Bridge opened on December 19, 1903, at a cost of $24.2 million. At the time it was the longest suspension bridge span in the world, and remained so until the opening of the Bear Mountain Bridge in 1924.

There were several deaths during construction, including a worker who fell from the Manhattan approach in May 1900; the main steelwork engineer, who fell from the Brooklyn approach in September 1900; and a foreman who drowned in March 1902. Additionally, a fire occurred on the Brooklyn side’s tower in November 1902, which nearly severed the bridge’s cables.

Despite its trials and tribulations the bridge’s opening was celebrated with great fanfare, including a fireworks show to celebrate a new mode of passage between two rapidly growing boroughs

Artist Credit: A. Loeffler. Reprinted with permission.


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