Historical Brooklyn Photography – Examination

In today’s post we are going to travel through time and examine various historical photographs of Brooklyn New York. The photographs that we are going to display and explore are going to range in content and subject. Some photographs will contain architectural elements such as the Brooklyn Bridge, other photographs will display group photographs of lets say … the Brooklyn Dodgers. After each photograph we will give a brief synopsis of the content and examine various elements of the photograph that stand out in terms of historical significance. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to comment below!

Streets of Brooklyn by the Brooklyn Bridge (1889)

This is a great photograph as you can clearly see the Brooklyn bridge off in the background. I also love the man in the foreground as it gives perspective to the size of the Brooklyn bridge. If you notice the tree to the left of the street, it is bear with no leaves upon it. This indicates to me that this photograph was taken either during a late fall or winter time period. I can also conclude this because the man walking towards the camera seems to be warmly dressed. Another interesting aspect within the photograph seems to be the street itself. It is completely composed of cobblestone, which is probably much different than it exists today.

 Brooklyn NY Blizzard of 1888 (1888)

I like this photograph alot! you get to see the aftermath of a major snowstorm that hit the Brooklyn New York area. Also what I find interesting is the clothing attire for people during the winter. It seems women back in 1888 wore there hair up in beanie like headwear. The snow accumulation from this snowstorm seems to be about 4-6 feet high.

Brooklyn Bridge Railway (1900 – 1910)

This is a great looking photograph as you get to see what the Brooklyn bridge railway was like back in the early 1900’s. In the foreground of the photograph you clearly see a moving trolly. Towards the back of the photograph and on the left hand side you see several billboard advertisements such as a suit tailor advertisement. Upon zooming into this photograph the price of a 2 piece suit back in the early 1900’s was advertised on this sign for $14.50. Even farther back from this billboard advertisement, I see another advertisement displaying an ad for Curley shaving razors. Towards the middle section of the bridge you can see several pedestrians walking the bridge either to catch a train or to walk over to Manhattan.

Brooklyn Dodgers Baseball Team (1895)

I had to include this photograph in this post largely because its an iconic photograph that largely displays Brooklyn history. In this photograph you obviously see the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team. You get a glimpse at the baseball clothing that was prevalent in 1895. To me what stands out the most is the style of hats they wore. The white pinstripe hats are very iconic to the style of old school baseball.

Brooklyn Navy Yard (1945)

A beautiful birdseye view of not only the Brooklyn Naval yard, but also Lower Manhattan. In the middle of the photograph you can clearly see the naval yard and the ships that are in port. To the right of the yard you can see a major mechanical crane. Situated around the Naval yard is smokestacks and factories that most likely is fabricating parts to produce ships. In the far distance to the left you can see the Brooklyn Bridge, and to the right you can see the Williamsburg bridge.

Coney Island Brooklyn NY Surf Avenue (1912)

Had to include this one as it is an important part to Brooklyn New York. This photograph displays a section of Coney Island, more specifically Surf Avenue and Luna Park. In the photograph we see several people walking along the sidewalks, we see several hose and buggies. We see the entrance into the Luna Park as well as several different businesses along the road. For instance on the left side of the photograph we see an amusement park business, more specifically a shooting gallery. On the right side of the Luna Park entrance we see a hotel labeled “Kisters”.

Construction and History of The Brooklyn Bridge

The details of constructing the Brooklyn Bridge towers have been performed under the eyes of all Brooklyn people. Since the tower of Babel and the great pyramid of Egypt, there has been no more massive structures. Block upon block the granite tiers were laid, until a total hieght of 278 feet above high water was attained. The New York tower is thus 356 feet high from the foundation. Further inland the equally ponderous anchorages were progressing, and although not so familiar because largely concealed by the surrounding buildings, are not the least important or least expensive details of the bridge. Still lower structures of solid masonry support the approaches.

In October 1878, a sensation was created by a communication to the N.Y. Sun, purporting to reveal a plot for blowing up the bridge. It was alleged that a certain stone-mason, inspired by the ambition of the “youth who fired the Ephesian Dome,” had secreted charges of dynamite between the courses of stone at the base of the tower on which he was engaged. The explosive was connected by wire with the exterior at points known only to the wicked mason, and at a suitable time, probably while the cities were celebrating the completion of the bridge, it was his intention to wreck the structure. A mysterious diagram was also published, said to be a copy of the working plan of the unprincipled wretch, showing the places of deposit and the line of connecting wires.

On May 29th 1877, a single wire was carried across the river attracting much attention as the first connecting link, with the “promise and potency” of greater things. The process of cable-making now commenced. Each cable is composed of 5,296 thicknesses of wire laid parallel. The wire is continuous in varying lengths, joined by a small screw coupling, which can never unscrew, the invention of Colonel Roebling and A.V. Abbot. At the anchorage the wire “returns” around a “shoe,” and so is carried from shore to shore until the cable is complete. It is then closely wrapped, forming a solid cylinder 15 3/4 inches in diameter. The total length of each cable is 3,578 feet, and it contains 3,589 miles of
wire.

Upon the four great cables thus composed, the suspended superstructure retains it’s inital and primary weight distribution. To avoid any lateral strain upon the towers, the cables are in no way fastended to them, but rest on movable “saddles” at the point of contact. These saddles, with their burdens, move to and fro upon 45 iron rollers of 3 1/2 inches diameter, which readily yield to the varying tention of the wires as the weight is shifted from the land to the river span, or vice versa.

A temporary structure called the “foot-bridge,” was thrown across the river during the cable-making, for the convenience of construction. It was much higher than the roadway of the permanent bridge, following the cables over the summits of the towers, instead of
passing through the arches. A trip across the foot-bridge on a clear, cool day, afforded an exciting and pleasurable novelty. The unaccustomed head would be dizzy, and both hands nervously clutch the wire hand-rails. Between the slats on which on walked were glimpses of gleaming water, and decks of toy ships and ferry boats with pigmy passengers. As our walk was but three feet wide, a ribbon through the air, it easily suggested a reminiscence of the narrow bridge Al Sirat, over which the people of Islam believe that the spirits of the departed must pass to paradise. The faithful tremble, but cross in safety, while unbelievers topple over into the fearful gulf. To avoid such thoughts, the traveler could look abroad and get distraction and delight from the wide panorama which the vicinity of New York affords.

How does the bridge look? is a question frequently asked. It’s external appearance from a distance is familiar from engravings which were exhibited everywhere before either one of the towers had reared its head above the tide. Some new ideas of details may perhaps be obtained from an imaginary trip to New York in July, 1883.

Descending from the horse car (or more happily the elevated railroad?) at the corner of Fulton and Sands streets, we notice no special change from the present aspect of Fulton street, but moving up Sands we find the southwestern corner of Washington street converted into the head of a busy thoroughfare, which closes abruptly at narrow Sands street; but the pressure there will soon be relieved, for a portion of the block bounded by Sands, Washington, High and Fulton has been taken as a public sqaure, that will be worthy the dignity of our bridge, and conduce to the convience of its traffic.

A Complete History of New York and The Brooklyn Bridge (1883) – FREE PDF Ebook

The Brooklyn Bridge has a vast and dynamic history throughout its conception in New York City. The bridge itself took almost 20 years to complete and required immense amounts of community planning and structural engineering strategies. Blood, sweat and work ethic were the cornerstones that built this marvelous bridge and in the end it united a prosperous and thriving borough with the largest city in the world.

Today I would like to provide our subscribers and readers the access to a FREE PDF Ebook from a our collection that is available for either reading online or download. The ebook we are offering today was published in 1883 and illustrates the efforts that took place in the creation of one of the most Iconic bridges in the world. The book consists of 94 pages and includes chapters that discuss; the growth of New York City and Brooklyn, the engineering of the bridge towers, the structural integrity of the cables, Brooklyn Bridge tolls, walkways on the bridge and other statistical items. So if your doing historical research on the Brooklyn Bridge or are a New York City historian, please feel free to download this Ebook completely for free by clicking the link below!

Read or download the Free PDF Ebook “A Complete History of New York and The Brooklyn Bridge” by Samuel W. Green by clicking or right-clicking(and saving) the link below:

A Complete History of New York and The Brooklyn Bridge PDF Ebook

The Historical Beginnings of The Brooklyn Bridge

Construction_of_Brooklyn_Bridge,_ca._1872-1887._(5832930865)This is historical reference material about the beginnings of the Brooklyn Bridge. In the post we explore various topics such as planning of the bridge, a fire that took place during the construction and much more. This information and material comes from the public domain Ebook “The New York and Brooklyn Bridge” by Alfred Barnes. If you enjoy the material below please feel free to read or download the complete book absolutely for FREE by going to the bottom of this post. Also be sure to check out our Brooklyn Bridge Poster prints from our online store at the bottom of this post.


The Great Bridge is done. Few realize the fact. Many amiable people have gradually formed the idea that this enterprise was a gift in benevolent preparation for
posterity, and often inquire, with Sir Boyle Roche, what posterity has done for us. There are even some who have looked upon the grim towers as useless monuments of an impracticable scheme. But through so many years of waiting, the work has crept slowly on. In all human probability, the van of the unending procession of passengers for whom it is designed will cross the completed structure in thirty days from the present time.

Twenty-five years ago the subject of a suspension bridge between New York and Brooklyn began to be agitated. Its earliest advocate, and probably original projector, was Colonel Julius W. Adams of this city. His first idea was to span the river from Brooklyn Heights, at Montague street, to Broadway in New York. But money and courage, practical science and population, to justify such a vast undertaking were wanting in that day. Nevertheless, Colonel Adams never lost itnerest in the subject, and finally fond an appreciative listener in the person of Mr. William C. Kingsley. Being accustomed to enterprises of great magnitude, and withal a public spirited citizen, Mr. Kingsley became convinced of the advisability and practicability of a suspension bridge. He interested a few other gentlemen, among whom were Senator Henry C. Murphy, and Hon. J.S.T. Stranahan, and steps were immediately taken to forward the project.

A new plan was then devised by Colonel Adams, which contemplated a bridge from Fulton Ferry, Brooklyn, to Chatham Square in New York. It was a light and comparatively inadequate structure, but the friends of the enterprise took the drawings to Albany, and so stoutly argued their case, that, in 1866, the legislature granted a charter to the New York and Brooklyn Bridge Company. Privilege was thereby given to the company to expend five million dollars or which three million was to be appropriated by the City of Brooklyn as the greatest beneficiary, $1.5 Million by the city of New York, and $500,000 by private stock-holders. An Act of Congress was also obtained, giving the company permission, under certain restrictions for the protection of navigation, to bridge an arm of the sea.

The gentlemen composing the first board of directors were deeply impressed with the responsibility imposed upon them. An enterprise of such magnitude, and involving engineering problems of an unprecedented difficulty, required the most skilful professional
supervision. As soon as the sanction of the law and the favorable verdict of the two cities had been obtained, all eyes were turned toward John A. Roebling, the master bridge builder of the world. Mr. Roebling was then in the prime of his powers, and in possession
of the most valuable experience; at the time having just completed the great bridge at Cincinnati, which, excepting the subject of our present sketch, is the most remarkable structure of its kind.

Mr. Roebling’s services were engaged; he removed to Brooklyn, and the office of the bridge company was formally established in the building of the Daily Union. The newly appointed engineer-in-chief then devoted himself for months to close calculation, and finally produced the plans and specifications which have been substantially followed to the present day. Their wonderful accuracy was never doubtful; but the modest Mr. Roebling insisted upon a council of engineers to revise them. The bridge company accordingly summoned the best talen which the profession could afford.

A little scientific congress thereupon assembled in Brooklyn. In the hands of these experts Mr. Roebling’s papers were placed, and with great zeal and fidelity the entire work was reviewed and proved. The consulting engineers expressed their complete satisfaction.

Between the completion of the bridge on paper and the inauguration of construction, a distressing event took place. This was the death of Mr. Roebling, in 1869. It was difficult to believe that the loss would not prove irreparable, and yet in fact Providence had preserved
him to be the real builder of the bridge, although not a hammerhad been lifted when he died. His son, Colonel W.A. Roebling, who was already associated with the work, enjoyed the confidence and shared the ability of his father. The board of trustees appointed him chief engineer-the position which he has held during the entire progress of construction. Associated with him were, and still are, the following professional staff: Mr. C.C. Martin, principal assistant engineer; Colonel W.H. Payne, in charge of superstructure; Messrs. F. Collingwood and S. Probasco, in charge of the New York approach; Major G.W. Mcnulty, in charge of the Brooklyn approach.

All being now in readiness, the work of actual construction was commenced January 2nd, 1870. The huge caissions, or platforms of timber and iron on which the towers now rest, were built (that for Brooklyn at Greenpoint, and that for New York at the foot of Sixth street), and towed down the river like rafts. The Brooklyn caisson arrived first, and was securely anchored in its place. Upon its broad surface, 102×168 feet, an army of masons at once began to place granite blocks from Maine, slowly sinking the caisson; while an army of diggers in the interior removed the earth and boulders, seeking a solid foundation
for the prodigious weight that was to be imposed.

The romance of life in the caisson had a certain fascination for people above ground, but it was in fact a rather unpleasant reality to the laborers below. To resist the pressure of water it was necessary to force a condensed atmosphere into the great chamber. In the New York caisson the pressure of air at the last was equal to 35 pounds to the square inch. Breathing was a labor, and labor extremely exhausting. Yet brave men subject themselves to physical suffering of this day after day, that the great work might go, until many cases nervous diseases and paralysis would follow.

One afternoon word was brought to the upper world that the Brooklyn caisson was on fire! The engineers were at once notified, and set themselves resolutely to confront the unexpected and indeed appalling danger. Some workman’s candle had ignited the oakum with which the seams were caulked. Unnoticed at the time, the fire erupted upward and attacked the mass of timber, 15 feet thick, of which the roof of the caisson was composed. Here it was almost inaccesible, by reason of the superincumbent mass of granite, and the fact that the ceiling of the caisson was as yet unaffected. The workmen were not themselves aware of the fire, when they were quietly summoned to come up, and firemen took their place.

Streams of water were directed upon the fire through auger holes drilled for the purpose, but unsuccessfully. Then exhaust steam was used in the same manner, and, to the great relief of the anxious watchers, the flames disappeared. But the carpenters, who were directed to ascertain the extent of the damage, upon removing a portion of the ceiling, found that the fierce element was still raging with what appeared to be inextinguishable fury. If it could not be checked the whole tower, which was then pretty well advanced, would soon tumble in ruin through the smouldering caisson to the river’s bed. Colonel Roebling was summoned at midnight, and at once resolved to flood the work. The pressure of air was withdrawn; the water oozed through every seam, assisted by a deluge from above, and in a few hours the caisson was thoroughly saturated.

This occurred on a Thursday. On the following Monday the waters had been expelled, and an examination revealed the welcome fact that the damage was not irreparable. It is alarming to think what the result might have been if the presence of the fire had not been accidentally discovered before it was too late. To avoid a similar danger, the interior
of the New York caisson was lined with sheet iron.

Click on the link below to read or download the Ebook “The New York and Brooklyn Bridge” by Alfred Barnes:

“The New York and Brooklyn Bridge” by Alfred Barnes PDF Ebook

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