Still Not For Sale

Submitted by ub on Sun, 05/24/2020 - 12:31

I have a bridge to sell you This phrase was coined by George C. Parker, a con-man who sold the Brooklyn Bridge twice a week for 30 years. He was eventually convicted and sent up the river for life where he may have sung, songs, at Sing Sing Prison, NY.

According to NYPL, for 130 years, the Brooklyn Bridge has been an icon of the New York City landscape—longer if you account for the 13 years required to construct it. This beloved connection between boroughs is still in use while many of its contemporaries have been replaced or dismantled worldwide.

When the bridge opened in 1883, New York was a different sort of town. Also referred to as either the New York Bridge or East River Bridge until its official naming in 1915, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was built. New York and Brooklyn were still separate cities. Streetcars, horse-drawn carriages, and elevated trains were the primary form of NYC transit. Electric light bulbs and phonographs were new, "sky-scrapers" were just becoming popular, and it was the first season of the New York Gothams, the baseball team that evolved into the New York (and later San Francisco) Giants.

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Thousands attended the opening ceremony on May 24 of that year. Ships filled the East River for the occasion. U.S. President Chester A. Arthur and New York City Mayor Franklin Edson crossed the span to celebratory cannon fire and were greeted by Brooklyn Mayor Seth Low when they reached the Brooklyn-side tower. The New York Times ran several articles on the day, including "To-Day's Great Ceremony: Everything Ready For the Opening of the Bridge" and "The Building of the Bridge: Its Cost and the Difficulties Met With—Details of the History of a Great Engineering Triumph," along with several articles describing the bridge's construction (read them in the New York Times here). You can read all of the speeches given on opening day via Google BooksProject, or HathiTrust.

The Brooklyn Bridge Is the Eighth Wonder of the World, but Its Construction Was Plagued by Tragedy