May 24, 2023

37 Fascinating Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge

Article by:

Photos by:

article & photos by:

Allie Albanese

Article by:

Photos by:

article & photos by:

Allie Albanese

Ready to unveil the secrets surrounding one of NYC’s most iconic landmarks? From its stunning architecture to the rich history behind its construction, read on to discover 37 fascinating fun facts about the Brooklyn Bridge.

Looking west across the Brooklyn Bridge with One World Trade in the background

Curious to learn some interesting fun facts about the Brooklyn Bridge? Me, too!

Having lived in New York City for nearly 15 years, there are very few parts of NYC that I haven’t explored. Because I love to walk and the Big Apple is one of the best walking cities in the world, I took to the streets to uncover the city’s secrets whenever I could. And amongst the myriad of remarkable NYC experiences to enjoy on foot, there’s one that especially stands out: the exhilarating journey of walking across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge!

I’ve walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and back countless times. In all four seasons. At many different times of the day. Alone. With friends. You name it. And one thing's for certain: it never gets old. Whether it’s your first time or your 100th time, it is truly one of those experiences that never fails to take your breath away.

But isn’t it funny how you can experience something over and over again, yet still fail to really learn all there is to know about it? During my last journey across the bridge, it dawned on me that while I knew the basics about its history, I really didn’t know the full story of how this magnificent structure came to be!

So, being the proud nerd and expert Googler that I am, I went on a mission to uncover all the fascinating nuggets of information I could find about this famous New York City landmark. And trust me when I tell you that some of these fun facts about the Brooklyn Bridge will absolutely blow your mind!

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A Brief History of the Brooklyn Bridge
Key Players
37 Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge
Additional NYC Articles
Frequently Asked Questions

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Brooklyn Bridge with One World Trade in the distance circa 2022

A Brief History of the Brooklyn Bridge

In order to fully appreciate any fun facts about the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s important to understand where the idea originated and who turned the once inconceivable idea into a reality. So before we dive into all the juicy tidbits about this prestigious New York landmark, let’s take a brief journey back in time to where the story all began.

The Visionary Behind the Brooklyn Bridge

Although countless people had a hand in building NYC’s iconic Brooklyn Bridge, the idea for constructing this monumental landmark began with John Augustus Roebling.

A renowned German-born civil engineer who dedicated his career to perfecting suspension bridge technology, Roebling’s fascination with bridges began early in his life. After studying foundation and bridge construction throughout university, he honed his skills by working on various bridge projects in Europe. His relentless pursuit of knowledge and innovation eventually led him to the United States, where he sought new challenges and opportunities to showcase his expertise.

After building bridges that spanned such rivers as the Niagara River, Kentucky River, Ohio River, and the like, it was in the vibrant city of New York where Roebling found the canvas for his grandest vision yet. Inspired by the bustling metropolis and the need for improved transportation between the boroughs, he conceived of the audacious idea to bridge the gap between Manhattan and Brooklyn (at the time only doable by ferry).

Although the journey towards realizing his dream was met with extreme adversity, Roebling’s unwavering determination nevertheless propelled the project forward. And despite not living to see its completion, the Brooklyn Bridge stands as a testament to his visionary spirit and the remarkable feats that can be achieved when one dares to dream big.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Brooklyn Bridge circa 1870 with warning sign to be careful on the construction site
Photo circa 1870 courtesy of the Museum of New York | Getty Images

Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge: The 4 Major Players

Behind the monumental feat of constructing the Brooklyn Bridge stands four individuals whose contributions massively helped shape its history.

  • John Augustus Roebling: The dreamer and German immigrant engineer who envisioned the daring idea of building the Brooklyn Bridge. His expertise in suspension bridge design laid the foundation for what would become an architectural marvel, his vision and engineering prowess setting the stage to bring his idea to fruition..
  • William “Boss” Tweed: The Influential and infamously corrupt head of New York City’s Tammany Hall who used his political influence (and shady tactics!) to secure the funding needed to build the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Washington Augustus Roebling: John Augustus Roebling's son who stepped in as Chief Engineer of the bridge when an injury unexpectedly prevented his father from overseeing its construction. His meticulous attention to detail, ability to navigate complex engineering challenges, and talent for coming up with innovative solutions helped ensure the successful completion of the bridge.
  • Emily Warren Roebling: Washington Augustus Roebling’s wife and the silent heroine behind the scenes. Emily Warren Roebling played a vital role in seeing the bridge's construction through to completion when her husband's health deteriorated.

Together, these four key players led the charge in building the Brooklyn Bridge, their lives and contributions leaving an indelible mark on this iconic landmark.


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Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: The Manhattan anchorage of the Brooklyn Bridge during evening golden hour

37 Interesting Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge

With the stage set and an understanding in place of the major players involved, let’s now move on to the good stuff!

Prepare to have your mind boggled, as we delve into some of the most astonishing – as well as some of the most unfortunate – fun facts about the Brooklyn Bridge. These facts make this historical tale one of the greatest in NYC’s history.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Brooklyn Bridge circa 1870 with construction beginning
Photo circa 1870 courtesy of the New York Daily News Archive | Getty Images

1. Corrupt Kingpin William “Boss” Tweed kickstarted construction with a bribe.

William “Boss” Tweed, the powerful and crooked political leader of NYC’s Tammany Hall, saw the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge as an opportune chance to line his own pockets. Holding sway over New York City's political landscape, he used bribery and backroom deals to orchestrate a complex scheme to fund the project, including substantial bribes to New York's aldermen amounting to a staggering $65,000. (Think: $1.5 million in today’s dollars!) He strategically aimed these bribes at securing their support for a monumental $1.5 million bond issue, which would greatly benefit his personal financial interests as well.

Through manipulation, he then cunningly positioned himself as a significant shareholder in the bridge's stock and even obtained a position on the committee entrusted with overseeing the project's finances. Then, further driven by insatiable greed, Tweed and his cronies devised a scheme to divert funds allocated for the bridge's construction into their own pockets.

However, authorities apprehended him in 1871 before he could fully execute his illicit scheme, thus foiling his grand plan.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: John Augustus Roebling and Washington Augustus Roebling
(L) John Augustus Roebling - Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum | (R) Washington Augustus Roebling - Photo courtesy of Britannica

2. The visionary behind the Bridge died well before its completion....

Before construction of the bridge even began, Chief Engineer John Augustus Roebling died of tetanus.

While conducting surveys for the Brooklyn Bridge project, his foot was crushed between some pilings and a boat. His toes had to be amputated, and unfortunately, an infection quickly set in.

Despite the gravity of the situation, however, Roebling declined conventional medical treatment, instead opting for “water therapy" (i.e. pouring water over his infected foot!). Unsurprisingly, this method proved ineffective, and Roebling tragically succumbed to tetanus not long after.

3. ….and his son nearly died too.

When John Roebling died, his son, Washington Roebling, took over as Chief Engineer. However, shortly after assuming the lead, Caisson Disease caused him to suffer a paralyzing injury, confining him to bed.

From his Brooklyn Heights apartment window, Washington Roebling used a telescope to supervise the project, hugely aided by his wife, Emily Warren Roebling. For 11 years, she served as the critical link between her husband and the engineers on site.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: NYU graduation portrait of Emily Warren Roebling
Emily Warren Roebling - Photo courtesy of the New York Historical Society

4. The completion of the Brooklyn Bridge marked a significant Feminist Victory.

Emily Warren Roebling, the wife of Chief Engineer Washington Roebling, played a pivotal role in the bridge's construction, becoming a trailblazer in her own right. When her husband fell victim to decompression sickness, Emily Roebling stepped forward as his advocate and liaison despite not being an engineer herself. With her unwavering dedication and intelligence, she defied societal norms and served as a driving force behind the bridge's completion.

Considered a pioneer of her time, Emily Roebling went on to earn a law degree from New York University and emerged as a passionate advocate for gender equality.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Group of men in top hats standing amidst construction
Photo circa 1872 courtesy of the Museum of New York | Getty Images

5. Construction of the bridge took 14 years and required over 600 men.

The epic undertaking of constructing the Brooklyn Bridge began in 1869 and ended in 1883. Over this 14-year period, the collaborative efforts of over 600 skilled individuals brought this architectural marvel to life. Incredibly, they did so using their bare hands!

From engineers and architects to laborers and craftsmen, each person played a vital role. Together, they faced treacherous conditions, daunting engineering obstacles, and constant pressure to push the boundaries. Despite all of this, they were able to turn a seemingly impossible idea into a reality.

6. It cost $15 million to construct.

Building this iconic structure cost a whopping $15.5 million! Which according to the CPI Inflation Calculator is the equivalent of nearly $450 million today.

However, the investment was not just financial, it was also an investment in the future of New York City and its transportation infrastructure. Hard to put a price tag on that!

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: steel-wire cable construction in progress
Photo circa late 1870 courtesy of the New York Daily News Archive | Getty Images

7. It was the first steel-wire suspension bridge.

When the Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883, it became the world's first-ever steel-wire suspension bridge. The innovative use of steel wire cables, carefully anchored and suspended between its massive stone towers, ensured unparalleled strength and stability and set new standards for structural integrity.

This pioneering design completely revolutionized bridge construction, paving the way for future suspension bridges around the world.

8. It took over 14,000 miles of wire to construct.

The Brooklyn Bridge boasts an impressive network of over 14,000 miles (22,530 kilometers) of wire. Four main cables support the bridge, each of which contains 5,282 parallel, galvanized steel wires wrapped closely together in a cylindrical shape measuring 14.75 inches (40 centimeters) in diameter. Each of these steel wires consists of 19 individual strands, with 278 wires to a strand.

The intricate and dangerous process of constructing the cables involved skilled workers splicing and tying the wires together, which once ready were transported across the East River from Brooklyn to Manhattan aboard a dedicated boat. There, with the assistance of winches positioned on the outer sides of the bridge’s towers, the strands were carefully raised to the top of the bridge. And despite the arduous nature of the task and the challenges posed by unpredictable weather conditions, the dedicated workers persevered. In fact, they spent approximately two years completing the intricate web of wire strands alone.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Close up of steel wire with Empire State Building and Chrysler Building in the distance

9. A wire manufacturer almost compromised its structural integrity.

During construction, a wire manufacturer named J. Lloyd Haigh tried to deceive Roebling’s team by swapping out inferior wire for the good stuff.

At the time, Roebling had inspectors stationed at Haigh’s mill to ensure the quality of each wagonload of wire destined for the bridge. However, somewhere between the mill and the bridge, Haigh’s sidekicks replaced the approved wire with rejected wire and sent the originally approved wire back to the mill for re-inspection.

The scam went unrecognized long enough for a substantial amount of faulty and inferior wire to be incorporated into the bridge. However, Roebling had anticipated such problems as a possibility from the start and designed the cables with an ample safety margin. Therefore, he made the surprising decision to allow the substandard wire to remain.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Men standing high on the Brooklyn Bridge wires circa 1914
"Brooklyn Bridge showing painters on suspenders" by Eugene de Salignac circa 1914 - Photo courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives

10. Nearly 30 construction workers died building it.

Although there’s no official record documenting the exact numbers of Brooklyn Bridge construction deaths, it’s estimated that 27 workers tragically lost their lives during its construction. Some fell from the wires and 276-foot-high towers, others were crushed to death from falling debris, and many others succumbed to Caisson Disease.

The dangers inherent in such a massive undertaking, coupled with the limited safety regulations of the time, unsurprisingly posed formidable challenges to the workers involved.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: 1870 blueprint for Brooklyn Bridge caisson
1870 Caisson Blueprint - Photo courtesy of Getty Images

11. Caisson Disease caused over 100 workers to suffer life-altering effects.

In order to establish a sturdy foundation for the Brooklyn Bridge, workers utilized large wooden boxes called "caissons" to excavate the riverbed. These airtight chambers were anchored to the river floor with massive granite blocks and filled with pressurized air to keep water and debris at bay.

Despite mild discomforts like headaches, itchy skin, and bloody noses often experienced by the underwater workers inside, the caissons themselves proved relatively safe. However, getting to and from the depths of the East River posed significant risks!

To get to the caissons, workers utilized iron containers called “airlocks.” To allow the workers to breathe, these airlocks filled with compressed air as they descended into the river. However, in addition to allowing the workers to breathe, this pressurized air also resulted in a buildup of hazardous gases in the workers' bloodstreams, which were quickly released into their blood whenever they resurfaced.

This led to a condition known as "Caisson Disease" (also known as “The Bends” or decompression sickness), with symptoms including such things as severe muscle and joint pain, bladder dysfunction, rashes, abdominal pain, numbness, paralysis, and even death. Over 100 workers suffered from this disease, leaving some permanently disabled for life.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: View of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Brooklyn waterfront circa 1927
Photo circa 1927 courtesy of the Underwood Archives | Getty Images

12. It stands over 276 feet high and 85 feet wide.

Standing tall and proud, the Brooklyn Bridge reaches a staggering height of 276.5 feet (84.3 meters). To put this into perspective, that's roughly equivalent to a 25-story building!

But that's not all. The bridge also boasts an impressive width of 85 feet (25.9 meters), which provides ample space for pedestrians, cyclists, and cars to traverse this colossal structure.

13. It initially connected two different cities.

Brooklyn was not part of New York City at the time of construction, it was a completely separate city! It wasn’t until 1898 that Brooklyn officially consolidated with NYC.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Manhattan anchorage of the Brooklyn Bridge

14. The Brooklyn Bridge reflects a Neo-Gothic architectural style.

Inspired by the grand cathedrals of Europe and his interest in Gothic architecture, John Roebling boldly decided to incorporate Neo-Gothic architecture into the Brooklyn Bridge’s design. Although first met with criticism, he stood firm in his decision, choosing to feature stone, intricate patterns and ornamentation, and pointed arches to exude a sense of grandeur and elegance.

15. It wasn’t always called the Brooklyn Bridge.

During construction, the bridge was originally referred to as the “Great East River Bridge.” Then at its 1883 dedication, it was titled the “New York and Brooklyn Bridge.” It wasn’t until 1915 – 32 years after it opened! – that its name officially changed to the “Brooklyn Bridge.”

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Brooklyn Bridge circa late 1800
Photo circa late 1800 courtesy of the Century Science & Society Picture Library

16. It extends over a mile from end to end. 

Spanning the East River, this beloved landmark stretches 1.14 miles (1.83 kilometers) in total from end to end. But don’t forget the added distance required to get on and off the bridge! For those walking or biking across it, you can anticipate a 1.6-mile (2.6-kilometer) journey to get from one side to the other.

17. For 20 years, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.

Upon its opening in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was deemed the longest suspension bridge ever constructed. With its main span reaching an impressive 1,595 feet (486 meters), it held this title for two decades until the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903. The main span of the Williamsburg Bridge extends 1,600 feet (487 meters), surpassing the Brooklyn Bridge by a mere 5 feet (1.5 meters).

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: construction workers circa late 1800
Photo courtesy of Bettmann | Getty Images

18. A Con Artist Sold the Brooklyn Bridge….but he didn’t own it.

In the rich tapestry of the bridge's history, one name stands out: George C. Parker.

This notorious con artist possessed a silver tongue and a masterful knack for deception, which he used to convince unsuspecting targets that they could own a piece of the Brooklyn Bridge. Using forged documents and promising untold wealth, Parker made his living conducting illegal sales of a property he did not own.

As his Brooklyn Bridge scams gained attention, Parker found himself in a cat-and-mouse game with the authorities until his fourth fraud conviction in 1928 earned him a mandatory life term at Sing Song Prison. To this day, people regard Parker as one of the greatest con men in the history of the United States!

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Aerial view of the bridge circa 1921
Photo circa 1921 courtesy of ullstein bild Dtl. | Getty Images

19. A rooster took part in the historic inaugural crossing.

Given Emily Roebling’s significant contributions to the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, she earned the honor of being the first person to cross it. Riding in a horse-drawn carriage from the Brooklyn side to the Manhattan side of the bridge, Emily completed the first official crossing a week before its grand opening. And she did so while holding a rooster in her lap as a symbol of good luck and victory!

20. More than 150,000 people walked across it on its long-awaited opening day.

When the Brooklyn Bridge officially opened on May 24th, 1883, an extraordinary spectacle unfolded as huge crowds of people converged in lower Manhattan to witness its grand opening. Dignitaries and notable figures, including President Chester A. Arthur and New York Governor (and future President) Grover Cleveland, took part in the procession, accompanied by a stirring military band and a contingent of troops.

As they made their way across the bridge, celebratory cannon fire rang out, marking a triumphant milestone in the city's history. The festivities continued well into the evening, with numerous speeches adding to the jubilant ambiance and a breathtaking fireworks display illuminating the night sky.

Then finally, the bridge opened its gates to the public. And in the first 24 hours of opening, a staggering number of over 150,000 people flocked to the bridge to walk across it! Which the New York Times described as “decidedly Brooklyn’s celebration.”

21. Sadly, tragedy marred the grand opening.

Just a week after the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, a rumor quickly spread through the crowd of 20,000 pedestrians on the bridge that it was going to collapse. Feeling an imminent sense of danger, panic ensued causing a stampede, which tragically led to the trampling death of 12 people and left many others critically injured.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Drawing of P.T. Barnum and his elephants on the Brooklyn Bridge

22. A parade of 21 elephants once marched across it. 

When the Brooklyn Bridge opened, Manhattan and Brooklyn residents were wary of its strength. Because it was the first bridge of its kind, many feared it would collapse.

So to demonstrate its strength and stability, renowned showman P.T. Barnum orchestrated an unforgettable spectacle. On May 17, 1884, he led a parade of 21 elephants (including Jumbo, the largest elephant of his time) and 17 camels safely across the bridge, thus proving to the thousands of New Yorkers who had gathered to watch that the Brooklyn Bridge would not bend or buckle.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: construction underway circa late 1870
Photo circa 1870 courtesy of the New York Daily News Archive | Getty Images

23. There was once a toll charge to cross it.

In its early years, this famous structure operated as a toll bridge, charging travelers and farm animals a fee to cross from one side to the other. Officials set the rates as:

  • 1 cent per pedestrian
  • 2 cents per hog and sheep
  • 5 cents per horse and rider
  • 5 cents per cow
  • 10 cents per horse and wagon

It wasn't until 1891 that the tolls were abolished, making the Brooklyn Bridge accessible to all without charge.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Inside an empty wine cellar hidden within the Brooklyn Bridge
Photo courtesy of Pauletto on Flickr

24. Secret wine cellars were built inside its anchorages.

Until the outbreak of World War I, people used secret compartments in the anchorages of the Brooklyn Bridge as wine cellars.

With their cooling granite walls, these 50-foot tall chambers provided ideal conditions for storing wine and were rented out at a considerable cost. Notably, A. Smith & Co. Productions spent a monthly sum of $500 to secure the vaults on the Brooklyn side, while the esteemed liquor distributor Luyties Brothers reportedly paid an astronomical $5000 per month for such prime real estate on the Manhattan side!

25. It predates London’s Tower Bridge.

While both Tower Bridge in London and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City are famous landmarks in their respective cities, the Brooklyn Bridge predates Tower Bridge by 11 years. Tower Bridge was completed in 1894, while the Brooklyn Bridge was finished in 1883.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: View of the Manhattan Bridge from the Brooklyn Bridge

26. It is Shorter than the Manhattan Bridge.

While the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge both cross the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge is actually shorter by 74 feet. According to the New York City Department of Transportation, the total length of the Manhattan Bridge’s upper roadway from portal to portal is 6,090 feet/1.15 miles (1856 meters/1.85 kilometers). In contrast, the total length of the Brooklyn Bridge and its approaches is 6,016 feet/1.14 miles (1,834 meters/1.83 kilometers).

27. The first president of the United States once slept where the Brooklyn Bridge now stands.

George Washington's first presidential mansion once stood where the bridge is today. Located at the intersection of Cherry and Pearl Streets, this elegant residence known as the Samuel Osgood House served as Washington's official residence from April 1789 to February 1790. Although demolished in 1856, a bronze plaque on the bridge’s Manhattan anchorage commemorates the mansion's existence, forever weaving it into the fabric of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Andy Warhol's "Brooklyn Bridge" art from 1983
"Brooklyn Bridge" by Andy Warhol, 1983

28. It became a cultural phenomenon in no time.

With its iconic silhouette adorning countless postcards, photographs, and movie scenes, the Brooklyn Bridge has become a beloved symbol of New York City itself. From films to song lyrics to books and pieces of art, many have drawn inspiration from its grandeur.

Some examples include:

  • Movies: Spider-Man, Sophie’s Choice, Sex and the City, I Am Legend, Godzilla
  • Musicians: Frank Sinatra, Wyclef Jean, Barry Manilow, The Black Eyed Peas
  • Artists: Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, Joseph Stella
  • Writers and Poets: Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, Hart Crane

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Nearing the end of contstruction on the Brooklyn Bridge circa 1884
Photo circa 1883 courtesy of the Universal History Archive | Getty Images

29. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This iconic landmark holds the distinguished honor of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Recognized for its exceptional architectural and historical significance, the bridge received this prestigious designation on October 15, 1966.

30. It is also designated a National Historic Landmark.

In 1964, the Brooklyn Bridge received its official designation as a National Historic Landmark. This title is given by the United States to a building, district, object, site, or structure for exceptional historical and cultural significance.

Only about 3% of all the places listed on the National Register of Historic Places are also recognized as National Historic Landmarks, making this designation even more significant and meaningful.

31. And it’s a New York City Landmark and National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark as well!

In 1967, the Brooklyn Bridge became a New York City Landmark. According to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, this means “it has special historical, cultural, or aesthetic value to the City of New York, state or nation, and is an important part of the City's heritage.”

In 1972, the American Society of Civil Engineers further designated the Brooklyn Bridge a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. This title is bestowed upon a range of civil engineering projects, structures, and sites that hold immense importance at the local, national, and international levels, an honor that serves to commemorate remarkable achievements in the field of civil engineering throughout history.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Inside the Brooklyn Bridge bomb shelter filled with water drums
Photo courtesy of Reuters

32. It contains a hidden bomb shelter.

During a routine structural inspection of the Brooklyn Bridge in 2006, city workers made a surprising discovery – a well-preserved bomb shelter dating back to the Cold War era. Located in the Manhattan anchorage of the bridge, the shelter contained a treasure trove of artifacts from that tumultuous time in history, including medical supplies, blankets, shock-prevention drugs, water drums, and 352,000 packets of crackers!

33. Sometimes it is 3 inches taller.

The Brooklyn Bridge is a suspension bridge, which means that it’s held up by cables anchored to the bridge towers. These cables are made of steel wire, which can expand and contract with changes in temperature.

In cold temperatures, the cables contract, which in turn causes the bridge to rise. In warm temperatures, the cables expand, causing the bridge to lower back down. This difference in height can be as much as 3 inches (7.6 centimeters)!

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Looking up at the Brooklyn anchorage

34. “Brooklyn Bridge Tan” is the bridge’s original color (although this fact has been hotly debated).

"Brooklyn Bridge Tan" has become widely recognized as the original color of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, although it has not been without its fair share of debate and controversy.

Some argue that the original color was "Rawlins Red," a pigment derived from iron oxide mined near Rawlins, Wyoming that was used in building the bridge. However, the prevailing consensus – and the one approved by The Landmarks Preservation Commission – is that the warm and distinctive hue known as "Brooklyn Bridge Tan" is the original (and now official!) color.

35. It’s a dangerous place to be a daredevil.

Throughout history, the Brooklyn Bridge has attracted numerous thrill-seekers eager to test the limits of human courage. But unfortunately, not all have been successful.

Among the most well-known unfortunate ones is Robert E. Odlum, a swimming instructor from New York who in 1885 attempted to make history by being the first person to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge. His ambitious stunt sadly didn't go as planned, and he tragically lost his life during the attempt.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Peregrine Falcon soaring high above the Brooklyn Bridge
Photo courtesy of MTA Photos

36. Peregrine Falcons call the Brooklyn Bridge home.

High above the bustling city streets, numerous pairs of Peregrine Falcons have made the stone towers of the Brooklyn Bridge their home.

For years these skilled hunters, which play a vital role in controlling the population of pigeons and other birds in the city, were at risk of extinction due to pesticide poisoning. But when the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, they were among the first birds to receive protection. Since then their population has been restored, and they’ve been seen nesting atop bridges, church steeples, and high-rise buildings throughout NYC ever since.

Today, MTA Bridges and Tunnels provides and monitors nesting boxes to help protect them and provide them with a safe habitat.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Pedestrians and cyclists crossing the Brooklyn Bridge

37. 149,000 people and cars cross the Brooklyn Bridge every day.

According to the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT), on average more than 116,000 vehicles, 30,000 pedestrians, and 3,000 cyclists make their way across the Brooklyn Bridge each day. Whether it's locals commuting to work, tourists exploring the city, or fitness enthusiasts enjoying a scenic bike ride, walk, or run, the Brooklyn Bridge provides a vital connection between the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

(Note: These numbers are based on 2018 statistics, which are the latest available from the NYC DOT.)

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Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: view from Brooklyn circa 1884
Photo circa 1884 courtesy of the Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: FAQs

As one of the most renowned landmarks in all of NYC, questions often arise about Brooklyn Bridge history, its significance, and its relationship to other well-known sites. So in addition to the fun facts provided above, here are some answers to several commonly asked questions about this engineering masterpiece.

How old is the Brooklyn Bridge?

As of 2023, the Brooklyn Bridge is 140 years old. Its construction began in 1869 and was completed in 1883.

Which bridge is older, Brooklyn or Manhattan?

The Brooklyn Bridge is 26 years older than the Manhattan Bridge. Construction of the Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883 while construction of the Manhattan Bridge was completed in 1909.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Looking across the East River at the Brooklyn Bridge

How long is the Brooklyn Bridge walk?

Although the Brooklyn Bridge itself stretches 1.14 miles (1.83 kilometers) in total from end to end, the total walk from entrance to entrance is approximately 1.6 miles (2.6 kilometers).

What is the unique feature of the Brooklyn Bridge?

There are many unique features of the Brooklyn Bridge, but perhaps the most recognized one is its innovative design and the construction techniques used to build it. It was the first steel-wire suspension bridge of its kind, utilizing steel wire cables to support its weight. This allowed for a longer span and greater structural stability than any other bridges of the time.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: beginning of construction circa 1870
Photo circa 1870 courtesy of Fotosearch | Getty Images

How did the Brooklyn Bridge get its name?

The Brooklyn Bridge got its name because it connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. It was originally referred to as the "Great East River Suspension Bridge" and then the "New York and Brooklyn Bridge,” until it officially became known as the “Brooklyn Bridge” in 1915.

Why is the Brooklyn Bridge called DUMBO?

The Brooklyn Bridge is not called DUMBO. DUMBO is actually a neighborhood located in Brooklyn, which stands for "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass."

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: View of the Manhattan Bridge from the Brooklyn Bridge

Is Brooklyn Bridge the oldest?

No, the Brooklyn Bridge is not the oldest bridge in New York City. The oldest bridge in NYC is the High Bridge, which spans the Harlem River and connects the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx. The High Bridge was completed in 1848, predating the Brooklyn Bridge by 35 years.

Why is the Brooklyn Bridge a wonder of the world?

The Brooklyn Bridge is considered a wonder of the world for several reasons. First and foremost, it was a groundbreaking engineering achievement of its time. When it was completed in 1883, it was the first ever steel-wire suspension bridge and the longest suspension bridge in the world.

Additionally, the Brooklyn Bridge played a significant role in transforming New York City's landscape and connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. It provided a vital link between the two bustling cities, facilitating transportation and trade and opening up new possibilities for economic growth and development.

Furthermore, the Brooklyn Bridge's architectural beauty and grandeur have made it an enduring symbol of New York City and an iconic landmark recognized worldwide. Its graceful arched towers, intricate Gothic-inspired details, and sweeping views of both the Manhattan and Brooklyn skyline make it a must-visit attraction for tourists and a source of pride for locals.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Brooklyn Bridge at night

Can you walk the Brooklyn Bridge at night?

Yes, you can walk the Brooklyn Bridge at night. I have done it myself a number of times!

What is Caisson Disease on the Brooklyn Bridge?

Caisson Disease, also known as decompression sickness or "The Bends," is a condition that occurs when divers or workers in pressurized environments underwater ascend too quickly to the surface. In other words, it is caused by the formation of nitrogen bubbles in the blood and tissues when the pressure is reduced too quickly. Symptoms can range from joint pain, dizziness, and fatigue to more severe cases of paralysis, organ damage, or even death.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Welcome to Brooklyn marker on the ground that you see as you cross the bridge

Is Brooklyn part of Long Island?

Yes and no! Although physically a part of Long Island, Brooklyn is demographically one of the five boroughs of New York City.

Where is Brooklyn Bridge Park?

Brooklyn Bridge Park is located on the Brooklyn side of the East River in New York City. It spans 1.3 miles (2.1 km) of Brooklyn waterfront from the Columbia Heights waterfront district to the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO. From this convenient park, you can easily get to popular locations like Coney Island in Brooklyn and Central Park in Manhattan by subway.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: Men sleeping suspended in the cable wires circa 1880
Photo circa 1880 courtesy of the New York Daily News Archive | Getty Images

How long did it take to build the Brooklyn Bridge?

It took 14 years to build the Brooklyn Bridge.

How tall is the Brooklyn Bridge?

The Brooklyn Bridge is 276.5 feet (84.3 meters) tall.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: View of the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn Bridge Park

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge: The Wrap-Up

An architectural marvel, a symbol of unity, and an invitation to explore the magic within the vibrant boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge stands as an enduring symbol of New York City's spirit and resilience.

I hope these cool fun facts about the Brooklyn Bridge have taught you something new and helped you better understand and appreciate what a testament it is to human ingenuity and determination!

And for those of you interested in learning even more interesting facts about the Brooklyn Bridge, check out David McCullough’s book “The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge.” This captivating narrative intertwines elements of greed, corruption, and obstruction with strands of optimism, heroism, and unwavering determination to tell the enthralling Brooklyn Bridge tale.

Do you have a favorite Brooklyn Bridge fact? Tell me in the comments below!

Headshot of Allie Albanese

A writer and photographer, Allie Albanese is the founder and curator of Parched Around the World. Here she aims to tell stories about the intersection of food, drinks, cultures, and traditions in places near and far.

Allie holds a Master’s degree in Journalism from American University and for more than a decade has worked as a freelance travel, food, and drinks journalist for various publications across the United States and abroad.

Disclosure: Articles throughout Parched Around the World may contain affiliate links, which means if you purchase something using one of them, I may earn a small commission for sharing items I personally use and love. This comes at no cost to you, but helps support Parched and allows me to keep this website running! For more information, please see my full Privacy Policy.

Looking west across the Brooklyn Bridge with One World Trade in the background

37 Fascinating Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge

Ready to unveil the secrets surrounding one of NYC’s most iconic landmarks? From its stunning architecture to the rich history behind its construction, read on to discover 37 fascinating fun facts about the Brooklyn Bridge.


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Looking west across the Brooklyn Bridge with One World Trade in the background

37 Fascinating Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge

Ready to unveil the secrets surrounding one of NYC’s most iconic landmarks? From its stunning architecture to the rich history behind its construction, read on to discover 37 fascinating fun facts about the Brooklyn Bridge.


No items found.



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