6 More Odd and Interesting Facts About The Brooklyn Bridge – Part 2

Grimaldi's Under the Bridge

You can’t think of New York without thinking of the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s an architectural masterpiece that was once the largest suspension bridge in the world.

Plus, if you’ve been on our Pizza Tour, you know Grimaldi’s is located right under it! What’s better than that?

There is so much to know about this iconic bridge, so here is part 2 in our series of odd and interesting facts about the Brooklyn Bridge!

Brooklynites walked across an ice bridge to get to Manhattan.

East River Ice Bridge

“Crossing the East River on the ice bridge,” 1871. (New York Public Library)

As you know, the Brooklyn Bridge was built of necessity. The East River kept freezing and people needed a way to travel between Brooklyn and Manhattan. Prior to the bridge, their only option was to walk across the frozen river.  Seems dangerous, but Brooklynites had fun with it! Over 20,000 people took the icy walk during the 1800s including Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, the first pastor of the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn. He said, “the trip was made to prove that it was not the wicked alone who could stand in slippery places.”

On one occassion in 1857 “the shores of either side were lined with people shouting, hurrahing and having a good time of it generally, and the utmost hilarity prevailed.”  The ice bridges give a whole new meaning to, “back in my day we used to walk uphill, both ways, in the snow”!

The Brooklyn Bridge and wine go hand in hand.

Wine Celler

The Brooklyn Bridge wine cellar; photo by Flickr user Pauletto.

If you like a nice glass of wine while strolling the Brooklyn Bridge you’ll be happy to know that the bridge was once home to wine cellars. The cellars already existed when bridge construction started, so the space was rented to help pay for the construction. Rackey’s Wine paid $500 a year and was on the Brooklyn side, and Luyties & Co paid $1000 a year and was located on the Manhattan side.

I bet we’d all like rent that cheap in NYC nowadays.

There’s a bomb shelter in the Brooklyn Bridge.

Cold War Bunker

Bomb shelter on the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge. (Photo: REUTERS/Seth Wenig)

There are so many people in NYC it’s hard to believe there could be any place left undiscovered, but in 2006 city workers found something shocking: a cold war era bomb shelter hidden in the Manhattan side of the bridge. The abandoned vault held emergency supplies such as paper blankets, metal drums, medicine and 352,000 crackers. The boxes were eerily labeled “for use only after an enemy attack”. What’s even creepier is the dates on the boxes, 1957 and 1963, the year the Soviets landed Sputnik and the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Today the vault is used for city storage. Makes you wonder what else could be lurking under the bridge, doesn’t it?

Peregrine falcons live in the Brooklyn Bridge.

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine falcons are the fastest-flying birds in the world. (Peter Arnold, Inc. / Alamy)

Think it’s strange falcons nest in the Brooklyn Bridge?

Historically, falcons lived on high cliffs over spacious areas ideal for hunting. They’d sit atop their perch, waiting for their prey to fly into an open area before they’d attack.  The Brooklyn Bridge is the perfect place to nest and hunt because it reminds them of their natural habitat. Smart birds, they sure know how to get the best views in NYC too. In fact, you can find them all over the city.

The Brooklyn Bridge had a few other names.

Walking bridge

Brooklyn Bridge walkway

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle was the first to call it The Brooklyn Bridge back in 1867.  It was also called “Great East River Bridge”, “Great East River Suspension Bridge”, “The Bridge” and was called “New York & Brooklyn Bridge” at its dedication ceremony. It was officially named Brooklyn Bridge in 1915 after Brooklyn became a part of New York City.

What does George Washington have to do with the Brooklyn Bridge?

Line art sketch

George Washington’s House on Cherry Street, New York (1789)

The first presidential mansion was located at 1 Cherry St in New York City. Geroge Washington lived there from April 1789 to February 23, 1790. But, as often happens in NYC, it was destroyed by development. In this case development of the Brooklyn Bridge. The only evidence of its existence is a plaque on the Manhattan anchorage.

The color of the Brooklyn Bridge has a name.

Sun under the Brooklyn bridge

In 2010 the city decided to repaint the bridge, but there was controversy over which color to use. The battle was between “Rawlins Red” and “Brooklyn Bridge Tan”. Proponents of “Rawlins Red” argued red was the original color from the iron oxide pigment derived from iron oxide mined near Rawlins, Wyoming. However, the new school won out and the bridge was painted “Brooklyn Bridge Tan”.

There you have it.
More cool facts about the Eighth Wonder of the World. In case you missed it, check out last weeks post about how it seemed construction of the bridge was doomed to fail and be sure to check out our tours!

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