The Brooklyn Bridge celebrated its 134th birthday on Wednesday.
The bridge opened to the public on May 24, 1883 and to mark the occasion the city put on an extravagant firework show between Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Needless to say, the bridge has a long, rich history. Here’s a look at some of the lesser known facts about the iconic piece of architecture.
Jack Sommer contributed to an earlier version of this story.
1. The original bridge designer died after a strange accident.
In 1869, while on a pier in Brooklyn conducting a survey for the bridge, Chief Architect John Roebling had his foot crushed by a ferry that came in too close. He didn’t scream but instead went on barking out orders to his workers.
After they got his foot unstuck, he promptly went to the doctor, who told Roebling they would need to amputate. But when the impatient Roebling was told the extensive after-care instructions, he changed his mind. “No, no, no. Just soaking it in water will be ok,” he said. He died a month later.
2. It took two generations of a family to design and build.
The Brooklyn Bridge took 14 years to build, starting in 1869 and ending in 1883. Roebling, a German immigrant, was named Chief Architect in the initial planning. The bridge looks the way it does today because of his original designs, which took three months to put together.
However, after Roebling’s death-by-ferry-accident, his son, Washington Roebling, was left to complete his father’s plans.
3. The construction workers used only their two bare hands.