The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York

An iconic landmark beloved by many for its panoramic views of the New York skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world at its opening in 1883, and is now one of the oldest in the nation. Its history inspired DC Comics stalwart and native New Yorker Peter J. Tomasi to tell its story in The Bridge. This beautifully rendered graphic novel, illustrated by Sara Duvall, details how this engineering marvel was brought to fruition.

John Roebling, a prominent engineer, had a vision of connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn by a suspension roadway, but died before work began on the project. His oldest son, Washington, took over as chief engineer, erecting the Manhattan and Brooklyn caissons (watertight retaining structures) before nearly succumbing to caisson disease (decompression sickness). With cost overruns and political pressure from the bridge's ruling board, Washington's wife, Emily, assumed control (under the watchful guidance of Washington from an upstairs window) and saw the project to its completion.

Duvall's drawings show dangers the builders faced: equipment failures, safety mishaps and sickness claim the lives of more than 20 men; her colored panels lend the book a nostalgic feel. The completed bridge, framed in the blue and violet glow of a Manhattan sunset, is revealed in the picture-perfect scene most have come to associate with it.

As Tomasi cites from David McCullough's The Great Bridge: "It so happens that the work which is likely to be our most durable monument, and to convey some knowledge of us to most remote posterity, is a work of bare utility; not a shrine, not a fortress, not a palace, but a bridge." --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

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