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Brooklyn Bridge

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"Considered a brilliant feat of 19th-century engineering, the Brooklyn Bridge was a bridge of many firsts. It was the first suspension bridge to use steel for its cable wire. It was the first bridge to use explosives in a dangerous underwater device called a caisson. At the time it was built, the 3,460-foot Brooklyn Bridge was also crowned the longest suspension bridge in the world.

But the Brooklyn Bridge was plagued with its share of problems. Before construction even began, the bridge's chief engineer, John A. Roebling, died from tetanus. The project was taken over and seen to its completion by his son, Washington Roebling. Three years later, Roebling developed a crippling illness called caisson's disease, known today as "the bends." Bedridden but determined to stay in charge, Roebling used a telescope to keep watch over the bridge's progress. He dictated instructions to his wife, Emily, who passed on his orders to the workers. During this time, an unexpected blast wrecked one caisson, a fire damaged another, and a cable snapped from its anchorage and crashed into the river.

Despite these problems, construction continued at a feverish pace. By 1883, 14 years after it began, Roebling successfully guided the completion of one of the most famous bridges in the world -- without ever leaving his apartment." - www.pbs.org