Sunday, September 18, 2011

Brooklyn Bridge is falling down

I am fast running out of ideas. This won’t do. I really want to keep this blog running, if at least to temporarily take my mind off my thesis. To do that I really need to travel more often. By travel I don’t mean taking an extended break and frolicking off into a different corner of the world, but just to get out of my lab more often and soak in the life on offer in and around the capital district area.

Darn it! Till my doctoral candidacy is done that’s not going to happen. Stuck in my lab my mind gradually going to bits, I guess today’s short post is just apt. Yes, Brooklyn Bridge is falling down; or rather it was, soon after it was opened in the May of 1883.

Picture taken on Christmas Day 2010. Christmas in the Big Apple, now that’s another story altogether. Ever since Kevin McCallister was lost in the City in 1992, I have wanted to retrace his steps. I should probably try and locate some of the lesser known spots in NYC that the movies have eternalized. KsK. 

The Brooklyn Bridge that officially opened to the public on May 24 1883 was, then, the longest suspension  bridge in the world. The first person to cross the bridge was Emily Roebling, the wife of Washington Roebling, the engineer who built the bridge and the son of its designer. On its first day, 1800 vehicles and 150300 people crossed the span.

Being the first experience of such a kind one can’t blame the panic that soon ensued. Six days after the opening, a rumor spread that the bridge was collapsing. The resulting stampede killed at least 12 people. Being such a technological marvel, the first of its kind, and already bearing the burden of 12 dead people on its shoulders, public faith in engineering had to be earned. On May 17, 1884, showman P. T. Barnum led 21 elephants over the Brooklyn Bridge to prove that it was stable. Considering it has stood the test of time, 128 years of proud service, the designer and builder of the bridge can stand head high.

Brooklyn Bridge was designed by John Augustus Roebling, a German-born American civil-engineer. He, however, was not fortunate enough to lay his eyes on his dream child imposingly spanning the East River. A crush injury to his foot before the construction began eventually led to his death. His son, Washington Roebling was placed in charge of the project.

Washington Roebling, of course, immortalized his name as being the builder of this imposing bridge. Being an RPI alumnus, his ingenuity was hardly in doubt, and he successfully supervised the construction overcoming the various practical challenges involved. Resting on past laurels may result in one losing sight of the future. Nevertheless, I like saying this, whenever I get the chance.

Listening to No Turn Unstoned, Shpongle, I sign off for the week listing a few facts that endear me to this monumental structure; other than it being built by an RPI alumnus, of course.
  • Each of the bridge's four supporting cables is 3578 feet 6 inches long, 15 1/2 inches thick, and contains 21000 wires that, combined, has a total length of 14060 miles.
  • Con man William McCloundy was sentenced to 2 1/2 years at Sing Sing Prison for "selling" the Brooklyn Bridge to a tourist in 1901; inspiration for Bunty and Babli to sell the Taj, perhaps.
  • On May 19, 1885, Robert E. Odlum became the first person to jump from the Brooklyn Bridge. Oh! The memory of my jump still raises my adrenaline, in spite the many weeks that have passed since.


  1. Speaking from my personal experience - whether you are a traveler or a PhD candidate, you need to endure and have a huge stamina to last until you reach the end. I am sure you will have enough ideas to keep your blog running. Looking forward to reading your posts! Keep it alive!
    Yours truly-having survived and completed her PhD 13 years ago!

  2. Thanks TFC for the vote of confidence.

  3. Let me call Ross for I do not have a PhD :P

  4. @Kirklops: u are the inspiration for those of us who are yet to enroll for our masters... keep the spirit flying high...

  5. Chintan... all suggestions are welcome. after all grad students are just ones who delay life :P

    MP... spirit of research or spirit of procrastination by spending time on this blog? ;)

  6. Good one Kirklops.