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Five things you may not know about the Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Paper
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Everyone loves the Brooklyn Bridge, but there’s a lot you don’t know about the fabled span. Such as:

• The bridge, completed in 1883, was built without with the aid of electricity.

• After several workers died after spending long stretches in caissons under the East River, scientists started studying the condition — now known as “the bends” — helping to improve safety for deep-sea divers.

• The bridge began as a privately financed project — funded by the New York and Brooklyn Bridge Company. But the work went over budget, and investors were bailed out by the state, which financed the remainder of the $15-million project — more than $2.5 billion in today’s money.

• A week after the bridge opened, a rumor spread that the span could collapse — prompting a stampede that killed 12 people. But to reassure bridge users of the bridge’s strength, PT Barnum marched 21 “Jumbo” elephants across it (successfully, by the way).

• And those stories of people “buying” the Brooklyn Bridge? Well, they’re true. One con man, George Parker, sold the bridge to several unlucky marks, once for as little as $50. And another, William McCloundy, spent two and a half years in Sing Sing for hawking the bridge in 1901.

— Colin Mixson

Updated 12:52 pm, November 21, 2011: Headline was amended to reflect ad salesman Eric Ross's affinity for — and broad knowledge of — the bridge.
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Reader Feedback

Eric from Brooklyn Heights says:
Missed one: The Brooklyn Bridge is also the site of the largest single mass arrest in US history, when over 750 Occupy Wall Street demonstrators were illegally led onto the bridge by the NYPD 10/1/2011.
Nov. 21, 2011, 2:59 pm
Dan from Brooklyn heights says:
OWS went there on their own. The police told them not to go on it.
Nov. 22, 2011, 4:47 pm

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