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The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge (original 1972; edition 1983)

by David McCullough

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1,375265,556 (4.27)46
Member:drbowser
Title:The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge
Authors:David McCullough
Info:Simon & Schuster (1983), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 562 pages
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The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough (1972)

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David McCullough's richly detailed account of the inception and building of the bridge is an expertly compiled history.

Not only does the reader learn what the Bridge meant to New York but also, we experienced the history and the politics around it.

McCullough takes his readers through the difficulty in engineering the project. John Roebling and his Brooklyn Bridge team had to get Albany's blessing and then Congress had to approve the project since they were concerned that it might affect the navigation of the East River and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

As the building went along, McCullough also takes his readers through newspaper accounts praising the project and we see Mark Twain in the group expressing his support.

Before the Bridge, New York City was landlocked. The only way to reach Brooklyn was the ferries which could be dangerous in rough weather and with navigating the busy East River.

We see a man with a vision in John Roebling. When age and ill health prevented his seeing his dream to conclusion, his son, Washington Roebling took over as the Chief Engineer.

This history unfolds like a tv documentary and the author takes his readers through the corruption and patronage of Boss Tweed and his gang.

This is a sweeping saga that is among the wonders of the world and sharing it as I did recently, made me feel I was a small part of its ongoing legend. ( )
  mikedraper | Nov 15, 2014 |
This was a really interesting book; who knew it was so hard to build the Brooklyn Bridge? Or that it took so long? There's a lot of fascinating history here and some great information about the engineering challenges. McCullough manages the transitions between politics and economics, between the personal lives of the leaders and the shenanigans of Tammany Hall, between Brooklyn and St Louis, gracefully. I especially enjoyed the vivid descriptions of working in the caissons, and of the response of the people of Brooklyn when the bridge was open. ( )
  TerriBooks | Feb 21, 2014 |
A great book about a great bridge and how it was built, both the political, financial and engineering facts and processes. It focueses especially on Col. Roebling and his father, the original designer of the bridge. Difficult to get started, after a time the book was not able to be put down, 4 stars
  oldman | Jun 10, 2013 |
While I enjoyed the people parts of the story, I became bogged down in the engineering of the bridge parts, may try to finish it up with the book so I can skip over the parts of little interest to me. ( )
  lindap69 | Apr 5, 2013 |
It is not easy to build bridges.

Let me bring up a local case, of a bridge between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Canada, has led to years of heartache, political opposition from stubborn 80-year old billionaires, controversial political deals with the devil, and years of time spent. And the thing hasn't even been built yet.

McCullough covers not only the political side of Bridge-building, but the technical side well. This is arguably his most famous book, and with good reason. He makes the dullest of technical details shine. The obscure historical characters of a century past are given a new luster. The great bridge is almost a natural formation in the city now, like the Hudson River, but now the reader is taken back to the triumphal opening, where president Chester Arthur shook the hand of the mayor of Brooklyn, and P. T. Barnum sent a parade of elephants across, a show of durability that is uniquely American.

Excellent stuff. McCullough is a phenomenal narrative historian and biographer, and it's good to revisit him again. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Epigraph
It so happens that the work which is likely to be our most durable monument, and to convey some knowledge of us to the most remote posterity, is a work of bare utility; not a shrine, not a fortress, not a palace, but a bridge.- Montgomery Schuyler in Harper's Weekly, May 24, 1883
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For my mother and father
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They met at his request on at least six different occasions, beginning in February 1869.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 067145711X, Paperback)

In the 19th century, the Brooklyn Bridge was viewed as the greatest engineering feat of mankind. The Roeblings--father and son--toiled for decades, fighting competitors, corrupt politicians, and the laws of nature to fabricate a bridge which, after 100 years, still provides one of the major avenues of access to one of the world's busiest cities--as compared to many bridges built at the same time which collapsed within decades or even years. It is refreshing to read such a magnificent story of real architecture and engineering in an era where these words refer to tiny bits and bytes that inspire awe only in their abstract consequences, and not in their tangible physical magnificence.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:58 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A detailed account of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge providing background on its engineering history as well as the political and social climate of the late-nineteenth century.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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