Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Brooklyn Bridge

Summertime means travel time. I'm lucky when it comes to travel. I've seen many of the world's landmarks up close and personal. Places like the Eiffel Tower, The Acropolis, Vatican City, Ayres Rock, Franz Josep Glacier, Norte Dame and Big Ben. For the next few postings I want to share some lesson plans I use for my students as I present some of America's outstanding landmarks and places of interest. So get your luggage packed and gas-up your mental car because we're off. Today, let's go to the Brooklyn Bridge:

The Brooklyn Bridge, one of the oldest suspension bridges in the U.S., stretches 5,989 feet (1825 m) over the East River and connects the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. At the time it was built, it was the largest suspension bridge in the world and the first steel-wire suspension bridge ever built. Originally called the New York and Brooklyn Bridge the name was changed in 1915. The bridge crosses the East River and was designed to carry motor vehicles (cars only), elevated trains (until 1944), streetcars (until 1950), pedestrians, and bicycles.

The bridge was designed by German-born John Augustus Roebling. He designed a bridge and truss system that was six times as strong as he thought it needed to be. Because of this, the Brooklyn Bridge is still standing when many of the bridges built around the same time have vanished into history and been replaced. An addition of 250 cables were added to make the bridge stronger. As things turned out, they proved to be unnecessary, but were kept for their distinctive beauty.Construction work began on January 3, 1870 and the bridge was finished 13 years later and opened on May 24, 1883. On that first day, a total of 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people crossed.

The bridge's main span over the East River is 1,595 feet 6 inches (486.3 m). The bridge’s clearance below is 135 ft. at mid-span. The bridge cost $15.5 million to build and approximately 27 people died during its construction. A week after the opening, a rumor that the Bridge was going to break down caused a stampede which crushed and killed twelve people.

At the time it opened, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world — 50% longer than any bridge built before. For many years the towers were the tallest structures in the Western Hemisphere. Since the 1980s, it has been floodlit at night to highlight its architectural features. The towers are built of limestone, granite, and cement in a Gothic style with pointed arches above the passageways through the stone towers.

At various times, the bridge has carried horse-drawn and trolley traffic; at present, it has six lanes for motor vehicles, with a separate walkway along the centerline for pedestrians and bicycles. Commercial vehicles and buses are not allowed on the bridge. A $725 million project to replace the approach motorways and repaint the bridge is scheduled to begin in 2009. The first person to jump from the bridge was Robert E. Odlum, a swimming teacher, in 1885. He survived the planned jump, but died shortly thereafter from internal injuries. In 1964 the bridge was designated a National Historic Landmark. Find out more at: www.nyctourist.com/bridge2.htm

Research gathered at: http://www.wikipedia.org/

Now, here's one of my poems you can jump off:


J' Attends

Whisper stumbles awardly upon the ear
in a real landscape someone has invented
where aliens sweep down for painted skies
wearing hero smiles edged in palest blue
they whoop & poke & harass a forest
sealed in approximate light pine-scented
between colored stones that have no value
the monkey is allowed to speak in its place
while acrobats reappear by the letter "B"
to perform before viewers all expendable.

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