Community group votes to co-name BK Heights street after female B’Bridge mastermind

Lady in charge: A portrait of Emily Warren Roebling from 1896.
Charles-Émile-Auguste Carolus-Duran

Don’t call it a “miss”-nomer!

Community Board 2’s transportation committee voted to co-name a Brooklyn Heights street for Emily Warren Roebling, who helped oversee the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge from her house in the Heights after her husband, chief engineer Washington Roebling, was stricken with the bends.

“She is very brave and a wonderful woman,” said Boerum Hill resident Bill Harris. “She deserves this and I think it would be a wonderful thing.”

The committee voted 9–0 with one abstention (due to lateness) to approve the application to co-name Columbia Heights between Pineapple and Orange streets “Emily Warren Roebling Way.”

The Roeblings lived nearby while Washington was working on the bridge, but when he got a case of what was then called Cassions Disease that confined him to his bed, Emily assumed her husband’s duties and became the face of the project, overseeing construction and schmoozing with journalists and politicians during a time when women, who still couldn’t vote, were kept in the background.

People gossiped that she was the true genius behind the Brooklyn Bridge and when construction finished in 1883, she was the first person to cross the span.

Silhouettes of Emily, her husband, and her father-in-law John Roebling form a sculpture at the foot of the bridge and a plaque on the landmark also honors the trio.

But the street co-naming would be the only known tribute to Emily and will ensure her legacy lives, according to a local pol who endorsed it after his former employee suggested the idea.

“Emily Warren Roebling is an integral figure in our borough’s and our city’s history and this street co-naming will honor her enduring and ever-developing legacy,” said Councilman Steve Levin (D–Boerum Hill).

Local civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association also supports the co-naming, according to a rep from Levin’s office.

It will move onto a full board vote at Community Board 2’s general meeting on June 14.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Road-ling: This stretch of Columbia Heights between Pineapple and Orange streets could be named for Emily Warren Roebling, who oversaw the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge from her home there.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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