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Brooklyn Bridge 125th Anniversary Celebration Print E-mail
Special Lighting for the Brooklyn Bridge 125th Birthday CelebrationIn May 2008, New York City commemorated the 125th anniversary of the Brooklyn Bridge with a spectacular five-day birthday celebration featuring fireworks, light shows, a concert by the Brooklyn Philharmonic, a Brooklyn Bridge film series, historical walking tours, a series of lectures and readings at the Brooklyn Historical Society and Manhattan's Surrogate's Court, a 18-mile bicycle "Tour de Brooklyn", musical and dance performances, a miniature golf course with Brooklyn icons, the opening of a renovated pedestrian connection between the Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO, and a telectroscope connection to London's Tower Bridge.

The Brooklyn Borough President's Office and the New York City Mayor's Office invited ASCE to participate in the Brooklyn Bridge's 125th Anniversary Celebration and volunteers from the ASCE Met Section staffed information tents at the Brooklyn and Manhattan towers of the bridge from Friday, May 23rd through Sunday, May 25th. With perfect weather on a Memorial Day weekend, each day hundreds of New Yorkers, visitors from across the United States, and visitors from abroad passed through the two information booths and were able to ask civil engineers questions about the bridge, learn how it was designed and constructed, and find out why some historians consider the Brooklyn Bridge to be the greatest technological feat of the nineteenth century. The ASCE information booths on the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge were filled with visitors throughout the day

Each of the information booths displayed key facts about the Brooklyn Bridge and showed presentations on laptops about the techniques used during construction. Met Section volunteers also distributed thousands of free informational brochures prepared by ASCE about the bridge's design and construction and handed out special newspapers for the event celebration and ceremonial "Deed to the Brooklyn Bridge" certificates signed by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. The certificates were especially popular with children and adults alike as the idea of trying to sell the Brooklyn Bridge has been a scam that con artists have tried to pull off since the bridge was first completed in 1883!

Children of all ages were particularly drawn to the information tents and the ASCE Met Section members helped to describe the basic engineering principals behind bridge building and careers in the civil engineering field. New Yorkers that lived or worked near the Brooklyn Bridge and took it for granted were fascinated to learn about how the bridge was constructed and the interesting story behind the Roebling family. Some of the visitors (including residents of Roebling, New Jersey) were descendants of the Roebling family while other visitors had ancestors that worked on the bridge's construction. Several groups of people from Europe and Asia were civil engineers visiting New York City and had learned about the Brooklyn Bridge 125th Anniversary festivities before traveling to the United States. Many civil engineers from abroad took photos of themselves alongside the ASCE banner as a souvenir.

Everyone wanted their own certificate with a Deed to the Brooklyn Bridge

The ASCE information tents were organized by Arthur Wolek, Chair of the Met Section's Structures Group. Arthur Wolek and Erik Metzger, alumni of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the alma mater of Washington Roebling (chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge), were at the information booths for all three days of the event. Volunteers also included Serafim Arzoumanidis, Jason Bax, Rich Cassin, Stephanie Cassin, John Chow, Oguz Ertekin, Yomi Falade, Brian Gill, Paul Giroux, Guy Halperin, David Harshbarger, Patrick Harshbarger, Jill Hazeltine, Ted Henning, Hugh Kelly, Dyab Khazem, Elizabeth Khinda, Jagtar Khinda, Mikiko Kitani, George Koss, Lisa Koss, Lenny Lowell, Ruth Lowell, Seth Medwick, Maryja Mikolajczyk, Michelle Mikolajczyk, Paola Montagna, Jarda Nehybka, Loan Nguyen, Robert Olmsted, Lynn Rakos, Kambiz Riazi, Ann Schoenfeld, and Ammar Zalt.

On Sunday, May 25th, Paul Giroux, chairman of the ASCE's 125th Brooklyn Bridge Anniversary Committee, gave two formal presentations entitled "Building the Brooklyn Bridge" at the Brooklyn Historical Society and Surrogate's Court in Manhattan. Each presentation detailed the history of John Roebling, Washington Roebling, and Emily Roebling and their part in the bridge's construction. The presentation also described how the bridge was constructed, including explanations of the caissons for the tower foundations and the cable spinning operations.

Perfect weather and the Memorial Day weekend drew huge crowds to the 125th Anniversary of the Brooklyn Bridge

When it opened on May 24, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge became the world's longest suspension bridge, joining the two largest cities in the United States: New York and Brooklyn. It was the first bridge to use galvanized steel wire in cable construction, which resulted in its unprecedented length, and the height of its towers even surpassed Manhattan's tallest building. As it was constructed mainly by hand without the benefit of electricity or power tools, the entire project took 13 years to complete. The Brooklyn Bridge was designated by ASCE as a National Civil Engineering Landmark in 1972.

See the Met Section photo gallery for more pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge 125th Anniversary Celebration. The Historic American Engineering Record includes drawings and photographs of the bridge. 

 
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