Friday, 26 May 2006

'Brooklyn Bridge' - John and Washington Roebling

The Brooklyn Bridge was at the time it was built one of the wonders of the world: the first large suspension bridge -- bigger by a substantial margin than its closest rival -- and the first built with ductile steel wire. Its designer John Roebling was already in the very first rank of the world's engineers when he began this project; structural and construction innovations there are aplenty, and a measure of his genius can be gauged by the fact that a bridge built in the steam age is still going strong today.

Opened on May 24 1883 (yes, I'm a day late) the bridge both symbolised and made real the coming to maturity of the great city that is New York. It is a masterpiece that fully deserves its spectacular setting.

LINKS: Brooklyn Bridge website - Buildings & Monuments Bookmarks

Architecture, Urban_Design


  1. Ummm... isn't Brooklyn on Long Island and therefore *not* the mainland?

  2. A day late you say?
    In Brooklynn you weren't :)

  3. "...isn't Brooklyn on Long Island and therefore *not* the mainland?"

    Ah yeah, good point. Best I fix that in the morning. :-)

  4. Appropriate that it coincides with Queen Victoria's birthday. She reigned over so many incredible achievements. I read about the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in "Seven Industrial Wonders". The engineers demonstrated a true Victorian spirit (despite being American!).

  5. The Brooklyn Bridge - sold countless times to gullible schmucks everywhere.

  6. Brooklyn bridge, Boo bloody hoo. ugly monstrosity, a mushroom has way more beauty

  7. "Brooklyn bridge, Boo bloody hoo. ugly monstrosity, a mushroom has way more beauty"

    thbpbpbpbpb (my best text approximation of a raspberry :) ) - It's a great bridge in a great city. An impressive construction when you consider the period in which it was built ansd the fact that it's still going strong.

    The BBC doco "Seven wonders of the Industrial World" has an good episode on this bridge and it's construction. Actually, the entire series is worth watching.

  8. Nick D said...
    "It's a great bridge in a great city. An impressive construction when you consider the period in which it was built ansd the fact that it's still going strong."

    I completely agree here. Considering that it was built over a hundred years ago, when technology and Physics were not sophisticated enough at the time to be used in its design. I am not sure if Simple Harmonic Motion (SHM) was used in its design by the engineers involved, as SHM effects are one of the design features to be considered by engineers of today. This phenomenon was only considered after the collapse of the TACOMA, which was just opened in the 1940. The engineers didn't consider SHM, therefore on a lightly windy day, the frequency of the wind coincide with the natural frequency of the bridge therefore the bridge keeps absorbing the energy from the wind vibration. This absorption keeps increasing the swing amplitude of the bridge, getting bigger, bigger, bigger, then finally snap.

    I am not sure whether Brooklyn has been reinforced over its lifetime to withstand SHM, because such engineering design was not known at the Physics of the time when it was built. Perhaps PC might have some knowledge about this and it would be good if he shares that with us here. The Physics of the Bridge design has advanced over the last 100 years with advanced techniques in differential calculus and Physics. One of the techniques I have read about is the use of 'Finite Element Analysis' (FEA) techniques, which is a differential calculus methods widely used in 'Particle Physics' and 'Fluid Dynamics' simulations. FEA is used in the design stage of a bridge by computer modelling to find out the 'what-if' scenarios that the bridge might face in its real harsh environment. FEA has spread to other areas of data analysis, which includes data mining to detect suspicious financial fraudulent transactions. FEA does solves the non-linear problem that arises in exploratory data analysis.


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