10 Fascinating Secrets of the Brooklyn Bridge

Riding all the way across the Brooklyn Bridge is not just about crossing a bridge. Every single step towards Brooklyn (from Manhattan) – or the other way around – offers a new possibility to explore views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Statue of Liberty, Freedom Tower and Lower Manhattan, Empire State Building, and the bridge itself. You have to cross the Brooklyn Bridge before the sunrise, at noon, to watch the sunset, in the middle of the night – at 3 a.m. Be creative to live this amazing adventure of scenic views, architecture and history. For each one of these walks, you will have different stories to tell, different and fantastic photos to share, different moments to keep to yourself. I put this visual story together to share my own vision of this iconic bridge. Enjoy some great pictures, and some of its secrets.


you have to Cross the brooklyn bridge at different times of the day and night. you will experience endless different emotions and views. you will always meet a new surprise on your way. photo: @lucascompan


The Brooklyn Bridge looms majestically over New York City’s East River, linking the two boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Since 1883, its granite towers and steel cables have offered a safe and scenic passage to millions of commuters and tourists, trains, and bicycles, pushcarts and cars.


The Brooklyn Bride seen from DUMBO. Jane's Carousel (left) and Freedom Tower (right). photo: @lucascompan

10. The winter that forced to build the bridge

In the winter of 1867, Brooklynites were forced to take a perilous walk over the frozen river to work (Image: Brooklyn Museum)


A Polar Vortex is an upper level low pressure zone, that lies near the Earth's pole. Every time it comes down towards the East Coast of the United States, New York freezes up. In 2014, 2015, and 2016 we were feeling like penguins. Well, that was nothing compared to the winter of 1867.

The weather was so frigid that the East River completely froze over, preventing ferries from carrying Brooklyn commuters into Manhattan. That was the sixth time on record that this happened in the 1800s, and it was the final straw–as Brooklynites were forced to take a perilous walk over the frozen river to work, it was decided that a bridge must be built once and for all.

9 – A woman with zero formal engineering training built the bridge

Emily Warren Roebling, the first person to ride all the way across the Brooklyn Bridg (Image: Nypl)


Three architects created the bridge over the 14 years of its construction. German-born John Augustus Roebling started the project, as he was trained in creating suspension bridges. Just before construction began, Roebling was injured in a boat accident, and died of tetanus several weeks later. His son, Washington A. Roebling, took up the project's mantle—only to get the bends, severely, while working on it. Who was the person who finished the work, then?


brooklyn bridge construction, 1881. image: courtesy nypl


Emily Warren Roebling, wife of Washington. She was already well-versed in the business of bridges thanks to her husband, but she started her duties simply as a messenger, relaying Washington's orders to his staff. Before long, however, Emily was the face of the Brooklyn Bridge, taking on everything from inspections to contracting to publicity. Before the bridge even opened, she was the first to ride all the way across it.

Today, there is a plaque on the bridge in Emily's honor that reads, "Back of every great work we can find the self-sacrificing devotion of a woman."


hanging out on the brooklyn bridge, 1914. Photograph by Eugene de Salignac/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives


"Back of every great work we can find the self-sacrificing devotion of a woman," says the tablet honoring emily warren roebling. photo: @lucascompan

Back of every great work we can find the self-sacrificing devotion of a woman.
— Plaque at the Brooklyn Bridge honoring Emily – at the fist collumn when you go to Brooklyn from Manhattan

8 – There is a Cold War bunker in the vaulted chambers

Metal water drums that could be converted to commodes, and 352,000 still-edible, high-calorie “survival crackers,” all sealed in watertight metal canisters and boxes ink-stamped 1957 and 1962, found stockpiled last week at the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo: John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times.


The end of New York (and perhaps the world) was envisioned by the Pentagon, who stuffed one of the vast, vaulted chambers under the main entrance ramp on the Manhattan side with supplies to ride out the aftermath of a nuclear attack.

Discovered by city bridge inspectors in 2006, the hoard included 17.5-gallon water drums, medical supplies, paper blankets, drugs and 352,000 still-edible, high-calorie “survival crackers,” all sealed in watertight metal canisters and boxes ink-stamped 1957 and 1962. Several boxes of blankets were marked, “For Use Only After Enemy Attack.” Whether the supply would actually have been effective is up for debate, but city officials continue to keep the room’s exact location a secret.

7 – Abandoned champagne cellars

Champagne cellars hidden inside the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo credit: Stanley Greenberg

The caverns below the 60,000-ton granite entrances were dark and consistently cool, ideal places to house even the most delicate vintage Bordeaux, Burgundy or Champagne. Photo: Paul Fitzpatrick for NPR


The Cold War-era bunker isn’t the only secret hidden inside the Brooklyn Bridge. On both sides, hidden under ramps leading to the anchorages, are enormous stone caverns, some reaching 17 meters (55 ft) high. Today, they store maintenance supplies, and from time to time, the occasional homeless gets inside and sets up camp. But back when the bridge first opened, these mysterious vaults were lined with rows and rows of champagne bottles. Cheers!


The design of the Brooklyn Bridge allowed for two wine cellars, one on each shore. Image: Hulton Archive

6 – Elephants Crossing the Bridge

Image: NYPL


One year after the bridge opened, tragedy struck: A simple stumble by a woman on the Manhattan side stairs caused a shriek, followed by a full-blown stampede that crushed 12 people to death and injured scores of others, as the crowds rushed off the bridge they believed was collapsing. To reassure the public of the stability of the bridge, and to earn a great deal of self-promotion, showman P.T. Barnum led 21 elephants, the famous Jumbo included, across the bridge on May 17, 1884.

5 – There is an abandoned subway station

City Hall abandoned 6 train station. Image courtesy: City hall


There's a gorgeous tiled, Art Deco-style station designed in 1904 by Rafael Guastavino, whose signature tile vaults are found throughout New York City, most notably in the dome of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The adornments of the station are no less exquisite, especially the brass chandeliers, intricate skylights, stained glass and graceful arches.

Though it's been closed since 1945, the subway station was never demolished. To this day, after the 6 train makes its final downtown stop at the Brooklyn Bridge station, it travels through the old City Hall station in its route to turn back uptown. How to take a look at this abandoned station? Learn more.

4 – Not always called the Brooklyn Bridge

Sunrise, summertime. Photo: @lucascompan


the city lights, dumbo. Photo: @daniel_mirkov


Today, the name of the Brooklyn Bridge seems as solid as the masonry, and most can’t imagine it with any other, but several preceded it. Before its completion, the growing structure was referred to as the “East River Bridge,” the “Great East River Bridge” and the “Great East River Suspension Bridge.” It was the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper who first named it the “Brooklyn Bridge” in 1867.

At the dedication, however, President Chester Arthur called it the “New York and Brooklyn Bridge.” Eventually, Brooklyn spirit and pride swayed public opinion, earning the official designation of the “Brooklyn Bridge” in 1915.

3 – The Corrupt Boss

Boss Tweed in 1870 (Image: public domain)


NYC’s most infamous corrupt politician got a real piece of the bridge. For city approval on the project, he was paid $60,000 in cash and given stock of the New York Bridge Company, while also sitting on its board of directors. After Tweed’s arrest and trial, the bridge was made public property with the mayors of Brooklyn and Manhattan in charge.

2A – Each of the tower weighs 90,000 tons

Workers had to be very precise in their measurements —the granite brick of the tower needed to be heavy enough to stay firm on the bottom of the river bed, but not so heavy that it would sink in.


the brooklyn bridge towers: each one weighs 90,000 tons. photo: @lucascompan


an epic sunrise at the brooklyn bridge. photo: @lucascompan

2B – Even today, the Brooklyn Bridge rises about three inches (7.62 cm) if it's extremely cold

This is a result of the cables contracting and expanding in cold temperatures. The wires have done this ever since the bridge was complete.


Brooklyn Bridge: 135 years of resilience under the toughest weather conditions. Photo: Lucas Compan

1. There are over 14,000 miles of wire in the Brooklyn Bridge


Each cable is made of 19 separate strands, each of which has 278 separate wires.


sunset from the brooklyn bridge. Photo: lucas Compan


sunrise from the brooklyn bridge. Photo: Lucas Compan


Next time on the Brooklyn Bridge, express yourself, explore your adventure all the way crossing this iconic landmark. Enjoy more photos and some funny quotes about the bridge.

breathtaking sunrise. what an experience. photo: @lucascompan

Everyone should walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I did it three days in a row because it was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had. The view is breathtaking.
— Seann William Scott, American actor, comedian and producer

sunset from a friend's rooftop in brooklyn. the brooklyn bridge (left) and the manhattan bridge (rigit). Photo: @lucasCompan

It was reported this week that a man who was proposing to his girlfriend on the Brooklyn bridge dropped the ring, causing it to fall to the road below. The story has a happy ending though: the man didn’t have to get engaged.
— Seth Meyers, American comedian, writer, political commentator, actor, and television host

brooklyn bridge taking a shower. Photo: @lucascompan

When Charles first saw our child Mary, he said all the proper things for a new father. He looked upon the poor little red thing and blurted, “She’s more beautiful than the Brooklyn Bridge.”
— Helen Hayes (October 10, 1900 – March 17, 1993) was an American actress

sunrise from the brooklyn bridge. Photo: @LucasCompan

I called my mother immediately to inform her that she was a bad parent. “I can’t believe you let us watch this. We ate dinner in front of this.” “Everyone watched Twin Peaks,” was her response. “So, if everyone jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you do it, too?” “Don’t be silly,” she laughed, “of course I would, honey. There’d be no one left on the planet. It would be a very lonely place.
— Sloane Crosley, writer living in New York City

"tribute in light" on september 11, 2016. photo: @lucascompan. want to learn more? click here.

George Washington Bridge? You throw yourself off the Brooklyn Bridge, traditionally. George Washington Bridge, who does that?
— John Goodman is an American actor

the brooklyn bridge photographed from the manhattan bridge. Photo: @lucascompan

I have made all my films for my children with the exception of my first film because my oldest daughter wasn’t born when I was making the film about the Brooklyn Bridge.
— Ken Burns was born in Brooklyn. He is an American filmmaker, known for his style of using archival footage and photographs in documentary films

From inside "Pete's Downtown Restaurant" (now "shake shack") on Water Street. It's closed since 2015. Photo: @LucasCompan

I would rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it.
— Will Rogers, (November 4, 1879 – August 15, 1935) was a stage and motion picture actor

brooklyn bridge from dumbo. Photo: @lucascompan

Scientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it.
— William F. Buckley, Jr. (November 24, 1925 – February 27, 2008) was an American author and commentator.

brooklyn bridge, from dumbo, brooklyn. Photo: @Lucas Compan

The Brooklyn Bridge and I grew up together,
— Al Smith (December 30, 1873 – October 4, 1944) was an American politician who was elected Governor of New York four times

the brooklyn bridge and the manhattan bridge shot from manhattan. Photo: @lucasCompan


Watch an inspiring, uplifting story at the Brooklyn Bridge

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