I have been off-line with computer problems so I apologize for the down time. I will be posting several articles over the next days and stay tuned for an exciting announcement in the next thirty days.
Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale
Welcome back. On location in NYC this past week I’ve had the opportunity to visit with many well known news people at Fox Studios including Geraldo Rivera. Also at the Today Show I again talked with Matt Laurer, a very pregnant Savannah Guthrie and the always jovial Al Roker and on Monday at the Madison Café I got caught up with TV personality Rikki Klieman. As I mentioned a few weeks back, Rikki is married to NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. I could dedicate my entire column to any one of these fascinating people but after the Brooklyn Bridge incidentlast week my interest turned that way.
If you haven’t heard, someone climbed to the top of the two towers, took down the American flags that usually fly along the bridge and replaced them with bleached flags that appear all white from a distance. I walked across the bridge myself and it is a massive structure. When the Brooklyn Bridge opened on May 24, 1883 it was the largest suspension bridge on earth and at the time it was dubbed the “8th Wonder of the World.” On opening day it was estimated that over 150,000 walkers and 1800 vehicles crossed the bridge. It took fourteen years of hard labor to construct the mile long bridge which spans the East River, connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn.
According to The Great Bridge by David McCullough twenty men died during construction including bridge designer John Rambling. Rambling’s son then took over and completed the project but not without encountering serious medical problems himself. The opening of the bridge was a major event in American history and people were excited. But when train tracks were laid across the structure in 1885, thirty million passengers a year began using it to commute into Manhattan which was a milestone in the development of mass transit in the area.
In the course of my research I also learned that many people seeking notoriety or wanting to commit suicide gravitate to the Brooklyn Bridge. The first jumper was Robert E. Odum in 1885 and he was also the first to die but apparently his death did not dissuade other jumpers. Amazingly a few people have lived to tell their stories. Today over 100,000 vehicles, 4,000 walkers and 2,000 bicyclists cross every day so there are plenty of deterrents for jumpers as I found when I joined the walkers. Still periodically you will read in the obituary
With the construction of the Williamsburg Bridge, which is four and a half feet longer, and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Brooklyn Bridge lost its standing as the longest bridge in the world. Several other bridges now connect Manhattan to nearby boroughs including the Manhattan, the Geensboro and the George Washington as well as numerous tunnels for subways and railways, all bringing millions of people to work every day. In 1964 the Brooklyn Bridge was officially designated a National Historic Landmark. It takes thirty men to maintain it and the entire structure is repainted every five years or so.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the space right now to give you the whole history of this historic landmark or all the other details of my ongoing business trip to New York City but I will have more next week. Till then I’ll see ya down the road….