The Great Bridge: The Epic Story Of The Building Of The Brooklyn Bridge

Kobo eBook available

read instantly on your Kobo or tablet.

buy the ebook now

The Great Bridge: The Epic Story Of The Building Of The Brooklyn Bridge

by David McCullough

Simon & Schuster | January 12, 1983 | Trade Paperback

Not yet rated | write a review
The dramatic and enthralling story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge at the time, a tale of greed, corruption, and obstruction but also of optimism, heroism, and determination, told by master historian David McCullough.

This monumental book is the enthralling story of one of the greatest events in our nation’s history, during the Age of Optimism—a period when Americans were convinced in their hearts that all things were possible.

In the years around 1870, when the project was first undertaken, the concept of building an unprecedented bridge to span the East River between the great cities of Manhattan and Brooklyn required a vision and determination comparable to that which went into the building of the great cathedrals. Throughout the fourteen years of its construction, the odds against the successful completion of the bridge seemed staggering. Bodies were crushed and broken, lives lost, political empires fell, and surges of public emotion constantly threatened the project. But this is not merely the saga of an engineering miracle; it is a sweeping narrative of the social climate of the time and of the heroes and rascals who had a hand in either constructing or exploiting the surpassing enterprise.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 562 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 1.5 in

Published: January 12, 1983

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 067145711X

ISBN - 13: 9780671457112

Found in: History

save 27%

  • In stock online

$17.47  ea

Online Price

$22.99 List Price

or, Used from $5.14

eGift this item

Give this item in the form of an eGift Card.

+ what is this?

This item is eligible for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.
See details

Easy, FREE returns. See details

Item can only be shipped in Canada

Downloads instantly to your kobo or other ereading device. See details

All available formats:

Check store inventory (prices may vary)

Reviews

– More About This Product –

The Great Bridge: The Epic Story Of The Building Of The Brooklyn Bridge

by David McCullough

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 562 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 1.5 in

Published: January 12, 1983

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 067145711X

ISBN - 13: 9780671457112

Read from the Book

Chapter 1 The Plan The shapes arise! Walt Whitman They Met at his request on at least six different occasions, beginning in February 1869. With everyone present, there were just nine in all -- the seven distinguished consultants he had selected; his oldest son, Colonel Washington Roebling, who kept the minutes; and himself, the intense, enigmatic John Augustus Roebling, wealthy wire rope manufacturer of Trenton, New Jersey, and builder of unprecedented suspension bridges. They met at the Brooklyn Gas Light Company on Fulton Street, where the new Bridge Company had been conducting its affairs until regular offices could be arranged for. They gathered about the big plans and drawings he had on display, listening attentively as he talked and asking a great many questions. They studied his preliminary surveys and the map upon which he had drawn a strong red line cutting across the East River, indicating exactly where he intended to put the crowning work of his career. The consultants were his idea. In view of "the magnitude of the undertaking and the large interests connected therewith," he had written, it was "only right" that his plans be "subjected to the careful scrutiny" of a board of experts. He did not want their advice or opinions, only their sanction. If everything went as he wanted and expected, they would approve his plan without reservation. They would announce that in their considered professional opinion his bridge was perfectly possible. They would put an end to th
read more read less

Table of Contents


Contents

AUTHOR''S NOTE

PART ONE

1. The Plan

2. Man of Iron

3. The Genuine Language of America

4. Father and Son

5. Brooklyn

6. The Proper Person to See

7. The Chief Engineer

PART TWO

8. All According to Plan

9. Down in the Caisson

PICTURE SECTION

10. Fire

11. The Past Catches Up

12. How Natural, Right, and Proper

13. The Mysterious Disorder

14. The Heroic Mode

PART THREE

15. At the Halfway Mark

16. Spirits of ''76

17. A Perfect Pandemonium

18. Number 8, Birmingham Gauge

19. The Gigantic Spinning Machine

PICTURE SECTION

20. Wire Fraud

21. Emily

22. The Man in the Window

23. And Yet the Bridge Is Beautiful

24. The People''s Day

EPILOGUE

APPENDIX

NOTES

PICTURE CREDITS

BIBLIOGRAPHY

INDEX

From the Publisher

The dramatic and enthralling story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge at the time, a tale of greed, corruption, and obstruction but also of optimism, heroism, and determination, told by master historian David McCullough.

This monumental book is the enthralling story of one of the greatest events in our nation’s history, during the Age of Optimism—a period when Americans were convinced in their hearts that all things were possible.

In the years around 1870, when the project was first undertaken, the concept of building an unprecedented bridge to span the East River between the great cities of Manhattan and Brooklyn required a vision and determination comparable to that which went into the building of the great cathedrals. Throughout the fourteen years of its construction, the odds against the successful completion of the bridge seemed staggering. Bodies were crushed and broken, lives lost, political empires fell, and surges of public emotion constantly threatened the project. But this is not merely the saga of an engineering miracle; it is a sweeping narrative of the social climate of the time and of the heroes and rascals who had a hand in either constructing or exploiting the surpassing enterprise.

About the Author

David McCullough is a writer, historian, lecturer, & teacher. He has received the Pulitzer Prize for "Truman", as well as the Francis Parkman Prize, & the "Los Angeles Times" Book Award. He is also a two-time winner of the National Book Award, for history & for biography. He lives in Massachusetts.

Editorial Reviews

"The Great Bridge is a book so compelling and complete as to be a literary monument. . . . McCullough has written that sort of work which brings us to the human center of the past."
—Los Angeles Times

Bookclub Guide

The Great Bridge by David McCullough

Reader''s Group Guide

1. In 1869, conversations about the Brooklyn Bridge took a more serious tone and there was much opposition. "The bridge... was a monumental extravagance, a wild experiment, nothing but an exercise in vanity." If a less expensive medium for transportation, such as a tunnel, would adequately increase transportation between Brooklyn and Manhattan, why build a bridge of this magnitude? Is there something to be said for grandiose monuments and landmarks?

2. John A. Roebling did not practice organized religion. Like many intellectuals of the time his beliefs were based in spiritualism. Why do you think spiritualism appealed to "practical men of learning"? Do you feel that science and religion is mutually exclusive? How does spiritualism relate to Scientology and other alternative forms of spiritual practice?

3. Prior to the completion of the bridge, you get a sense that Brooklyn is a strong, self-sufficient town. "New York [City] employed considerably less than half of Brooklyn''s wage earners, perhaps even as few as one in three." If that is the case, what is the strongest argument for building the bridge? What are the pros and cons of further developing Brooklyn into the "biggest city in the world"?

4. William Tweed was arguably the most powerful and influential man in New York politics. His "Tweed Ring" was built on a system that exorbitantly inflated public expenditures on construction contracts. How were Tweed and the Tweed Ring brought to justice? Can you site similar examples of his organized embezzlement in current local and national politics?

5. The "bends", drastically took its toll on the bridge workers who sunk the New York caisson. What explanations of the disease were the most far-fetched? After the New York caisson was dropped, Colonel Roebling claimed that, "just two deaths could be charged directly to the effects of pressure." Why do you think Roebling botched his final report? If you were in Roebling''s position would you have interrupted the project until developing a mechanism such as the "hospital lock" to ensure the safety of the bridge workers?

6. In January of 1875, Henry Ward Beecher, pastor of Plymouth Church was accused of committing adultery with Theodore Tilton''s wife. Although it was clear to the general public that Beecher was guilty, the functions of the church continued as usual, and no one was reported to have abandoned the church. McCullough writes, "a great many people who thought Beecher might be guilty after all would continue to regard him as an extraordinary human being and felt he suffered more than enough." What is your opinion on the sexual misconduct of political and/or religious figures, and the public''s treatment of such scandal? Should political and/or religious figures be held to a higher standard of morality? Explain.

7. William Roebling''s health began to deteriorate to the extent that he rested at home and conducted his responsibilities as Engineer-in-Chief through correspondence via his wife. With mounting medical and person expenses that outweighed his $10,000 salary, what is Roebling''s driving motivation and commitment to the bridge? Have you or anyone you know been so dedicated to a passion that hard work led to the denial of health and personal wellbeing? Share your experience. Is that kind of dedication frowned upon or encouraged by today''s culture?

8. After E.F. Farrington was the first to cross the Brooklyn Bridge, his pioneering effort became a huge spectacle and he became a media sensation. Do you think he felt guilty receiving so much attention when Roebling was working from his sickbed? Why did the act of being the first to cross the bridge garner more media attention than the individual whose expertise carried the bridge to fruition?

9. In a dispute over the Bessimer steel contract, why was Hewitt personally invested in discrediting Roebling despite his attempt to remain out of the public arena?

10. When workmen were digging foundations for the Brooklyn approach, the Eagle published an essay on the bridge as "the coming place for the truly artistic suicide." During this time, what did the bridge symbolize in terms of birth, death, triumph, and spectacle?

11. In 1882, the bridge was just about complete. McCullough writes, "for the first time since his father''s death... Roebling could relax a little... his services were no longer vital." At this point, why didn''t Roebling step down from his position as Engineer-in-Chief, and name a successor to complete the bridge? What did he have to loose?

12. In 1883, the bridge was finally complete. As a response to Hewitt''s presentation of the bridge as a great symbol of progress, Roebling writes, "the advantages of modern engineering are in many ways balanced by the disadvantages of modern civilization." What are those disadvantages? Do you agree with this statement? Explain.