Archive for May 22nd, 2008

Happy 125th Birthday, Brooklyn Bridge!

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Technically the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge is May 24th, but the city is getting the party started early with a concert by the New York Philharmonic and fireworks this evening.

The 6,000-foot-long landmark is one of the nation’s oldest suspension bridges and among its most treasured.

Tourists flock to see its interplay of architectural grace and muscle and its commanding views of the Manhattan skyline. Historians note its role in shaping the city: It linked Manhattan with what was then a largely rural Brooklyn, helping spur a Brooklyn growth spurt, Schweiger said. Brooklyn’s population grew by 42 percent between 1880 and 1890, while Manhattan’s grew by about 26 percent, census figures show. […]

Building the bridge took 13 years, cost $15 million and claimed several lives, including that of its celebrated designer, John Roebling. He succumbed to an infection after being hurt while looking over the site. His son, Washington Roebling, took over the project.

It was also the inspiration for my favorite chewing gum as a kid. Tip: if you can find it, the licorice flavor is the best gum evar.

Mmm… Brooklyn gum…Brooklyn gum was created by the Italian candy company Perfetti after World War II when American GIs introduced locals to American chewing gum.

The name and Brooklyn Bridge logo were meant to give the gum an American image, said Anna Re, a Perfetti spokeswoman.

“The Brooklyn Bridge was a true symbol of America,” Re said. “The idea was very effective, because everyone still thinks that Brooklyn [gum] is an American product.”

They certainly had me fooled, and I was buying it 30+ years later.

Back on topic, the celebrations will continue for 5 days of lectures, films, and general fun stuff, including a chance to wave to Londoners via the magic of the mysterious Telectroscope.






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