Building the Brooklyn Bridge


The Brooklyn Bridge story: Overcoming obstacles

Not too many people know the magnificent story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. It was the creative thinking of John Roebling, an engineer at the time the Civil War was coming to a close. He envisioned a revolutionary span connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Like many new ideas, Roebling’s was greeted by many naysayers. Bridge building experts from around the world said his concept was impossible.

Unfazed by the negativity he enlisted the assistance of his son, Washington, who was studying to be an engineer in his father's footsteps. They overcame many obstacles in order to begin construction only to be met by the biggest challenge of all.

A few months into the project a horrible accident claimed John Roebling’s life and left his son brain-damaged, unable to talk, and paralyzed except for the use of one finger. Locals thought this was the end of the bridge.

However Washington had a trick up his sleeve. He had not only inherited a love for engineering from his father, he also inherited his dad's creativity. He developed a code for communication by using his finger to tap the arm of his wife, who lovingly stood by his hospital bed. For 13 years he instructed her as to what to tell the engineers so they could complete the bridge.

So the next time you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge or see it in a picture, do not think simply about the engineering wonder that it is. Instead, think about the tremendous monument it represents for overcoming adversity.