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New-York tribune. [volume] (New York [N.Y.]) 1866-1924, October 31, 1920, Image 84

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By Arnold Prince
A FEW days ago a youthful
Westerner ? well, he isn't
exactly youthful, but in
pome mysterious fashion he
manages not to grow up?burst into
the office and gasped :
"They're taking Brooklyn Bridge
apart!" He sat in a chair to col?
lect himself. "Brooklyn Bridge!" he
emphasized. " After forty - five
In spite of the fact that he was
addressing a group of Manhattanese
who had grown somewhat callous to
Brooklyn Bridge, condescendingly
looking upon it as something too
closely identified with the borough
of alarm clocks and rubber plants,
he caused something of a sensation.
"Actually?" inquired the stout
member of the office, who thinks
kindly of the Westerner and
therefore takes him seriously some?
times. "Taking the bridge apart?"
Enthusiasm Wouldn't Down
"Well, not exactly taking it
apart," admitted the Westerner, a
tiny wave of depression resulting
from the concession to conservatism,
"but they're taking out some of the
bolls." IIis enthusiasm surged back
at the thought of the bolts. "Been
there forty years," he exclaimeJ.
jubilantly. "Think"?in an awed
voice?"how many persons have
passed over the old bridge in that
One who is a native of the big
city and does not know in what ven?
eration Brooklyn Bridge is held by
all outsiders?aii^l, truth to tell, by
most natives?might find difficulty
in appreciating the Westerner's agi?
tation. But in any case, at least
two of his statements require clear?
ing up.
In the first place, it is not forty
five years since the bridge was fin?
ished, but only thirty-seven. The
span ?vas turned over to the public
on May 24, 1883, and so the four
decades will not be up until May
24, 1023. A tablet states, however,
that it was dedicated in October,
Paint to Cost $85.000
Nor, as intimated, is it true that
the bridge is being taken apart. It
is a fact that extensive alterations
and repairs are being made, among
the first, improvements decided upon
being a reinforced floor along the
entire length of the span and a new
coat of paint. The painting alone
will cost $85,000.
Hew and there, too, sections of
the steel work are being strength?
ened, and the old bolts?they are
actually pins?arc being replaced by
new one?.
The Westerner was greatly
wrought up when he discovered the
metal pieces being plucked from the
venerable structure- sort of sever?
ing the threads, you know, from
among the old?hut let no one jump
lo the conclusion that his is an
isolated case.
A walk across the span any day
when the workers are at their tasks
will show this is not the fact,
Many stop to watch the riveters
at work. In New York City rubber?
necking is one of the recognized and
established diversions, but there is
something different about these
?.razor**. They see in these overalled
figures not mere mechanics engaged
in unscrewing nuts, repainting iron
work and replacing boards, but
votaries of a holy task performing
sacred rites on an edifice, grown
hallowed through the generations.
"I Was There"
The other day a graybeard paused
in his walk and beckoned to one of
the workers. The worker was in a
group of others on a cord at the far
side of the elevated rails, and it
meant considerable trouble for him
to cross over the narrow footpath
to the middle roadway for pedes,
trians, but he did it. Thus do th<
mellowing influences of sentimenl
and tradition exert themselves!
"See you are making repair-,'
orTered the graybeard.
"Representing some iron com
pany?" inquired the workingman
eying the other suspiciously.
"a\"o. Live in Brooklyn. I wa
there when they opened this bridge '
"Yes. Abo Hewitt made the
speech. Fine speech. The Presi
dent of the United States w 13 then
and so was the Governor ind th<
Mayor of \* w York Brooklyi
didn't belong to New Vori; then,
you know and a lot o^ people."
"Must have been a great sight."
"Yes. You born in Brooklyn'."'
"No." The workingman showed
a trace of uneasiness. "Kansas. But
it's a great old bridge," he hastened
to assert.
"Yes. Phsaw, none of them other
bridges can compare with it even
"Can it be possible?"
The Same Steel Pieces
"Sure See them big steel cross
pieces underneath? Them things
that support the rails, you know?
Well, them has been there ever
since the bridge was put up and
they're as good as ever. No, I'm not
kiddin'. You take them same pieces
on the Manhattan Bridge, now, and
they're three or four times as heavy
and not a bit better."
"Sure. Say. I been workin' on
bridges all my life and 'f I don't
know a bridge no one does. It's a
great old bridge, I'll tell the world."
"I'm glad to hear you say ro,"
said the gruybeard. He shook hands
solemnly with the mechanic. "Too
bad you weren't born in Brooklyn,"
he called back as he moved away.
"Another of thorn Brooklyn Bridge
nuts," remarked the ironworker as
he started back for his aerie. "But
she's a good old bridge at that."
She is. Grover Whalen, win
ought to know, seeing he is the Coni
missiner of Plant, and Structures
and therefore responsible for i lie
condition of the structure, insist?
most enthusiastically that she is
swearing that just as soon as thai
new floor is down, and a few of the
bolts?pins?are tightened up or re?
placed, she'll be as good as new.
?No Danger of Falling
From time to time disturbing
rumors have been heard that th<
ancient link was about to fall down
or was sagging dangerously in spots
but each time the experts wen
called upon to make an examinatioi
they found, as much to their owi
astonishment as that of any one else
that the figure of speech was liter
ally true.
Brooklyn Bridge not only is per
forming all the service original 1;
set out for it, but is easily and safel;
carrying a trafile several time
greater than dreamed of by its wi',1
est protagonist.
And assuredly it isn't losing it
hold on the affections of the pcopl
in the provinces.
The other day?it was the hou
when the 9 a. m. office employee
verc jamming Nassau Street in thei
rush to get to their places of en
) loyment on time;?rushingthousami
in the downtown district were halte
by a couple of dusky honeymooner
who were too absorbed in their hap
piness to notice the ravages the
were indicting upon the traffii
They were darkies of pronounce
Southern type and apparently i
fairly,prosperous circumstances, ft
each was adorned by the habiliment
which to those cf their kind bespea
the height of fa.shion, good taste an
brilliant color.
The bridegroom, who was hup
??nd fairly beaming with newly wo
marital happiness had on a sky-bh
suit with slanting pockets vivid
?set off by glistening tan shoes ar
a blazing red necktie.
Clear From Alabama
The bride glanced up at him fro
time to time, love and adoratio'1 i
her eyes.
"Yessah," admitted the giant 1
a pedestrian whose heart was s?nre
by so much happiness and ?ngag?
him in conversation. "All the W?
fum ol' Alabam."
"Out a little early for sightseein
aren't you?" pressed the pedestria
"Yessah, boss," granted tin' gn.r
"Yessah, but nie 'nd mab wif? -th
yeh is man wife?is aimin' t<> spei
the day on Brooklyn Bridge. K
you all please direct me 'nd mi
wife as to the wheahabouts ?>f tl:
yeh Brooklyn Bridge'.'"
The pedestrian could and did, i
though it meant making him a f?
minutes late at the office.
A great bridge with a grant h
tory. There may be some who c?->>
to the city and fail to visit. Con?
Island. Sonic may even neglect
climb the dimly lit stairs to t
crown of the ?Statue of Liberty, -i
doubtless ? few fail to attend a p<
formanoe at the Hippodrome.
But who is there who conns fr?
afar and neglects to make at \??
one pilgrimage to Brooklyn Bridf.
?Seen on a misty day, what fail
sight is there than its towers of
masonry risiag above the surround?
ing vapors? And what more Deauti
ful than Manhattan seen from the
center of the span, when darkness
steals on and the myriads >f elec?
tric lights conven the huge down?
town structures into frail edifices of
incandescents and magic?
It? Utilitarian Side
And yet, as .*? brief it shall be
very brief, for statistics, somehow
don belong in this picture?survey
of the figures will show, the bridge
also has a pretty fan- utilitarian
In UM s the R. R. T. furnished
figures to the Public Service Com?
mission showing that trolley cars
had crosse,] ii1(, bridge 1,000,000
Brooklyn Bridge from the Docks
times that year and thai in nddifion
there had been 800,000 trips be?
tween Manhattan and Brooklyn by
elevated trains.
As it is the practice to take the
count of ira Hie on all the city
bridges between October 15 and
November 15, when travel 's con
idered normal, the ligures for L920
10 the present rime are not \ ?"., com?
piled, but there are others which
will lie found helpful.
Whereas, in 1912 only 3 913
vehicles used 'ie two roadw, ys of
rriIEY span;? on (lie bridge at midnight?and also all the
?* hours from noon till then
the bridge daily, 6,605 passed over
them ?? a a: two . fo ir hours, in
In 191 ' y cars carried 1 19,
P93 persi m a d iy, and in 1919, 130,
356. Ele1 lie ;' 11 ofl' a little
la it year as compared with 1912,
but even so an average of 106,200
i ossi d by ti roui e bei v, e? n morn?
ing and eve
The V;.io:iV Population
? - ; - ? ti <-a ? i hat by ; i ey
? a ?,-.-- a a lone 36,357,
d the bridge in VI'.'.
add d to thes : the
un er of those who walk across or
han 6,600 motor
ear i and v tous daily it
is coi I ha i throng equal t(
the entire population of the United
States crosses Brooklyn Bridge every
There are no records of those who
\ walk across daily?Manhattanward
in the morning and Brooklynward in
the evening, or perhaps on a quick
i round trip during the lunch hour?
but that the total is large can be de?
termined by any one who will take
the trouble to watch the passersby
during the busy hours.
Rarely, when the weather is pleas
rnt, but some are to be seen loiter?
ing along the railings. To the south
' can be seen the ships passing out to
sea, and to the north an edge of the
New York navy yard and the other
g^eat spans gird'ng the river. Some?
times an artist will be seen making
, sketches, and on warm summer eve
? j ings the benches are never quite
free of the silhouetted forms of
sweethearts watching the craft slip?
ping along the waters.
Thirteen Years in Building
For the benefit of those stati -
tically inclined it may be added that
the bridge took more than thirteen
years to build, that it cost more than
$::,">,000,000, and that until more
modern achievements came along it
was generally looked upon?ir
? Brooklyn, certainly, if nowhere else
, ?as the eighth wonder of the wor'.d
\ Looking back <>ver the newspapers
; cf the day when the bridge was
opened to traffic one may get a vivic
impression how the span was looker;
upon at that time, and abo as to.th?
source of that sentiment and affec?
tion which all but converted th<
: structure into a national monument
Jl must be remembered that when
1 this marvel of engineering came inte
I being there were only 50,000.00(
' persons in the United States, bul
; 5,000,000 in the entire State of New
.York and only 2.000,000 in New
York and Brooklyn combined.
Nothing so imposing and wonder
ful had been seen in the Unite*
States and at but few places in th<
\ world.
President Arthur himself jour
neyed from Washington to Brooklyn
ro attend the ceremonies, and it wai
.an impressive spectacle indeed whet
j he and Governor Cleveland, escorte?
! by the 7th Regiment, walked acrosi
the structure.
Looking back over the newspaper?
one may observe scores of adver
I tisements inviting* "ladies and stran
gers making the delightful tri]
across the East River" to seek res
? and relaxation after the unprece
dented experience in the refresh
ment parlors open on that occasion
Cities Made Holiday
New York and Brooklyn both de
i clared a holiday; all the exchange
; were closed, as were the courts an
public offices; buildings were decc
! rated with flags and bunting, an
there were several imposing recer
tions, the most impressive bein
that at the home of Colonel Wast
ington A. Roebling, the chief er
gineer, in Brooklyn, which was at
tended by the President.
Virtually the only public institv,
tion open for business on that grea
and glorious day was Castle Garde*
which, of course, had to take car
j of the daily ingress of immigrant:
never dreaming that as time went o
it would be converted into an aqiu
rium and a headquarters for strany
In Brooklyn Mayor Setli Low in?
troduced an innovation in the shape
of row? of gas jets along the roof of
his house on Columbia Heights, and
Mayor Edson of New York was also
doing everything possible^ to make
the day a success. True, there were
some in Manhattan who looked with
disfavor '?pon the bridge, although
scoffing at the suggestion that any
number ?f person? would be in?
duced thereby to move to Brooklyn,
but these critics were in the minor?
ity. There was an effort to stir up
a scandal over the fact that the
celebration was so arranged as to
take place on Queen Victoria's birth?
day, but the agitation died away
when it was explained that the date
selected was not the result of a pro
British plot.
V National Event
Irani twenty-one to one hundred
guns were tired; special trains
brought visitors from many of the
big cities of the country; the!
spe-eches that were mad" filled pagcf
in the newspapers; all over V, A
United States note was taker. ?' ]
importance c>f the e\
The Tribune's Account
In the evening 'here was a spe.
cial fireworks display, which wa ;
thus describ? d by an observer on th|
roof of Ti:*' New York Tribuna
"From the roof ' ?? Tribune
Buildi 5 -.vuj
as a dreai So cleir
had been '. ..= >t,;i
light enoug ? the
city -./? u.
meed 1 oxhi- |
b'ltioi.?. (';? , i out '
of the '?' ige be?
gun to grow ?nd a
mj i iad of g Bicker?
ings in a.' eitle? i
an:-"ad oui \ ha?e |
rap the
outlinea o '
oi r< ?? a c< a
preat span. red and!
green erald?
lashed nit oni ' and a
? - white,
blue, .. red up
-?a; - lea of
? :.?? river. Fir? ? . led lazily
over the ?* ibitiosi
er regions and, exp?o ling there,
dropped gol len stai a ed the
sky with -'
For twenty year , until 1903 to
Le exact, when the Williarasfaf
Bridge was opened, Brooklyn Bridge
remained the onb span across the
East River.
It would take a lot of print to
give the history of ; .ins old
link. A crea:: n .it took
hold of the romantic like a fever.
No theatrical pr< ?iealing
with the danger-? at city
was complete which did not show
somewhere in the scenic distance a
reproduction of the span. In the
shadow of the stone approaches or
underneath the wharfing would be
shown a pirates' retreat, where the
beautiful heroine inevitably becam?
a prisoner. Many persons sougl.i
to incorporate the glory of ?K
bridge and their own by perform
ing strange or dangerous dcedi
t-pon it.
Steve Brodie'? Leap
?Steve Brodie gained fame and fol
tune by being the first ?to leap fror
the bridge into the river and survivi
and' he soon had several imitator:
some of them successful and son'
not. As it was considered the la:
word in human daring to walk sen?
Niagara Falls on a tight rope,'
it was ultimate in courage tota
one's self headlong from the lof'
roadway into th< v ? crs benest
and many atte
These and otha doits help?
spread the fame of the : rua'urea;
what little~hamle1 in what renw
corner of the country bul held sew
of small boys a tul grow
ups who thrilled over the stories
these adventures?
Then along came the stories oil
possible collaps? of the bridge,
this was tli - i"a a ructure
its time, ?1 5 do.-; ni? tioi ?vas lool
upon ib the g i of possi
tragedies, and enough to til! mi
volumes was w ri
Safer Than Ever
Recently the reports of the weak?
ened condition of the i"*idLr<* became
so persistent that. Professor W. H.
L'urr, for*twenty-three years pro?
fesse)]* of civil engineering at ColaUB
bia University, was n tained to mak?
an inspection, il;.- r< ion was ?*&
the structure actually was safer
than when it was built, although 't?
was taking can more trafic
than h/id been intend
Brooklyn Br ? al?ne
in its field until the \\ i!liamsbttt|
span was built, thai c***6
the Manhattan Bi .... t > be f?-'
j lowed by the Queen-?'.-rough ??**.
Heil Gate bridges. All are mere
modern than the first, none hasW*
the same veneration, and no Brook?
lyn Bridge fan can be found *'^?
will admit th it any of them is any?
where teat* a- beautiful. FinfUy?
in 1908, the firs, of the cubwsy
trains was placed in operation?*"'
cween the two :
Notv, ithstandii
tit ions, howev? lyn Brid?e
continues to 1 - own, and fren,
all indications will still be doing
business at the eld stand until It**
after the present generation aW-*
been gathered unto, its father?..

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