New York and the Brooklyn Suspension Bridge

Accession Number

New York and the Brooklyn Suspension Bridge

William Holmes

Object Creation Date
circa 1883

Medium & Support
albumen print on paper

10 in. x 22 1/16 in. ( 25.4 cm x 56 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of the Marvin Felheim Collection

Label copy
As immigration swelled the population of New York City throughout the nineteenth century the city’s size and character changed dramatically. Expanding northward up the island of Manhattan, the city’s burgeoning population strained the infrastructure of roads and ferries to surrounding Long Island, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. In discussion as early as 1802, a bridge over the East River, connecting New York with neighboring Brooklyn, was approved by the New York State Legislature in the 1860s. Under construction for fourteen years, the Brooklyn Bridge opened to the public amid great fanfare, fireworks and celebration on May 24, 1883. For the cost of $15,000,000, New Yorkers had the longest suspension bridge yet constructed and the first one built with steel cables. In addition to being an engineering feat, it linked the nation’s largest city to the third-largest, Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Bridge immediately became New York City’s most recognizable featureæan iconic status it would enjoy until the construction of the Empire State Building in 1930-31. New York City’s relationship with the surrounding communities was formalized in 1898 when Greater New York City was created, incorporating the boroughs of Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, and Brooklyn.
Holmes’s photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge celebrates this engineering marvel straddling the East River. The gothic-style granite piers that towered above any other structure in the City frame the view of the river and shipping below the bridge, while the steel cables create graceful “swags” across the water.
Carole McNamara, Assistant Director for Collections & Exhibitions
on the occasion of the exhibition New York Observed: The Mythology of the City
(July 13 – September 22, 2003)

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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& Author Notes

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