In this talk, Jeff Richman discusses research from his book Building the Brooklyn Bridge 1869–1883: An Illustrated History with Images in 3D. It’s a captivating story of how a bridge of unprecedented size and technology was built over the East River, connecting, for the first time, the then independent cities of Brooklyn and New York.
This awe-inspiring structure was not only a modern engineering feat of extraordinary imagination, fortitude, and skill, it also was a towering beacon of human triumph.
For the book, Richman gathered 253 superb 19th-century images, many never before published on the printed page, including engineering drawings, photographs, stereographs (seen in 3D using a viewer), woodcuts, and colored lithographs.
He relates how a small group of dedicated engineers and thousands of workers toiled for more than a decade to construct what was then the largest suspension bridge ever built, section by section, from the massive anchorages and elegant towers to the cables and bridge railway (operational four months after the bridge’s official opening).
This talk invites the reader to step back in time to discover why this iconic bridge—proclaimed the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ soon after its completion and a National Historic Landmark in 1964—continues to hold such a special place in the hearts of so many.
Richman has been fascinated by New York City’s history for as long as he can remember. In 2007, after 33 years of practicing law, he became the full-time historian at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. He is the author of three previous books, including Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery: New York’s Buried Treasure (1998). An avid collector, he has amassed an outstanding collection of stereoview and lantern slide photographs of New York City—many of the Brooklyn Bridge under construction—which he donated to The Green-Wood Historic Fund.
Presented on August 7, 2021.