07 September 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know that the engineer who supervised the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge is an alumna of our school?

Emily Roebling was the wife of Washington Roebling, son of John Augustus Roebling. The elder Roebling was the engineer whose design to build a suspension bridge of the East River, connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn, was a response to the bill passed by the New York state legislature in 1866, which sought to address the recent population growth in Brooklyn.

John Roebling died of tetanus in 1869, after injuring his foot in an accident on the Brooklyn Ferry (where was OSHA back then??!!) Washington Roebling was named chief engineer after his father's death. In 1872, eleven years before the bridge was open for traffic, Washington Roebling was stricken with caisson disease, a common affliction of those who work in highly-pressurized environments. For the remainder of the project Emily Warren Roebling met daily with the workers and delivered messages from her ailing husband. She had a keen understanding of the work which was taking place and became well-respected among engineers and laborers alike. When it was suggested that her husband, due to his illness, be removed as chief engineer, Emily addressed the American Association of Civil Engineers on behalf of her husband and won their support for his continued leadership. On opening day, Emily Roebling rode across the bridge with President Chester Arthur. One must wonder if they were charged the 1 cent toll?!

In a recent trip to New York, attending the Catholic Thrive conference, Sister Mary Snapshot was lucky enough to stay with our Sisters in Brooklyn and to be one of the 140,000 cars that cross the 14,000 ton bridge each day. If you've never been across this architectural masterpiece, do enjoy a one-minute trip in the below video. While there are no nuns featured in the video, there is an awfully cute bird who was very unafraid of bipeds. Sister Mary Snapshot found him on a detour through Hyde Park.

It might interest readers to know that in 1984 a bike lane was added and that over 1,000 bikers and close to 2,000 pedestrians cross the bridge daily.

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