Segments in this Video

The Brooklyn Bridge: Introduction (04:50)


The construction of the bridge nearly destroyed the family that created it. Emily Roebling carefully archived all news clippings and notes. Having already constructed bridges in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Niagara Falls, John Roebling dreams of an edifice a mile long that spans the East River. (Credits)

Hiring Engineers (03:33)

Three days later, a ferry crash occurs injuring John. Dr. Andrew Smith amputates John's toes; lockjaw set in. Washington Roebling promises he would finish the bridge on his father's deathbed.

Becoming Chief Engineer (03:12)

Washington proves to the investors he is the right man to assume control of the project. Workers respect his approachable nature. Emily describes why her husband leads well.

First Task (05:29)

Washington planned to use airtight caissons filled with compressed air to lay the foundation for the two towers. Immigrant workers who labor below the water line suffer headaches and pressure sickness. The watertight chamber reaches a layer of boulders that need to be detonated to reach bedrock below.

Fire in the Caisson (04:22)

The men drill holes in the watertight chamber to discover the location of the flames. Washington suffers his first attack of the bends; fire engines fill the caisson with water to douse the fire.

Nine Weeks Later (03:52)

The compressed air escapes due to carelessness. No lives were lost and the Brooklyn Caisson is filled with cement. Washington raises concerns about the New York tower, whose caisson must travel three times deeper to reach bedrock; production begins.

Caisson's Disease (06:52)

E.F. Farrington describes the dangers of working in the compressed air environment. Men suffered from paralysis and arm pains. The first fatality occurs; Washington decides to place the foundation on compacted sand.

Retiring to the Country (03:48)

Washington cannot physically supervise the site because of his injury and he retreats to the family home in Trenton, New Jersey. By dictating to Emily, the chief engineer provides detailed instructions on how to construct the bridge. Emily learns mathematics and engineering to assure her husband's legacy is completed.

Both Towers Completed (03:23)

Washington misses the first wire being strung across the bridge because he is too ill. Farrington swings across the river in a boson's chair. Engineers refuse to allow the Roebling Company earns the contract because it is a conflict of interest.

Wire Snaps (02:29)

Two bridge workers die and three are severely injured. Inspectors discover rotten wire was entwined within the cable. Washington realizes the cable company replaced the approved wire with a sub-standard one while traveling to the job site.

Job Under Peril (06:25)

The Roebling Company makes several enemies when it receives the remainder of the contract; newspapers report that he suffers from a debilitating illness. Emily reads a letter to the trustees in order to save the Chief Engineer's position. The Bridge is completed.

Credits: The Brooklyn Bridge (00:44)

Credits: The Brooklyn Bridge

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The Brooklyn Bridge

Part of the Series : Seven Wonders of the Industrial World
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $300.00
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $450.00
3-Year Streaming Price: $300.00



In the mid-19th century, a seemingly impossible scheme was devised to unite New York City to Brooklyn by spanning the East River with the longest suspension bridge ever built. Yet the ambitious dream of brilliant engineer John Roebling fast turned into a nightmare. This program tells the story of an incredible technological feat set against a background of greed, gross political corruption, and a double family tragedy. A combination of accidents and injuries, negligence, and a mysterious illness that would come to be known as the bends left Roebling dead, his son Washington partially paralyzed, and workers maimed. Bystanders were killed as well: a dozen were crushed among the crowd at the bridge’s opening. A Roebling family triumph, the Brooklyn Bridge nevertheless took a terrible toll.

Length: 50 minutes

Item#: BVL141233

ISBN: 978-1-64198-556-7

Copyright date: ©2003

Closed Captioned

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