Top 5 Facts About the Williamsburg Bridge
Although often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge is equally noteworthy. Some interesting facts about the Williamsburg Bridge can be surprising. The following are five fun facts about the Williamsburg Bridge.
1. Innovative design
The Williamsburg Bridge was the first bridge to eschew masonry towers in favor of steel. This choice made the bridge faster to build and cheaper. It also meant that the towers needed smaller foundations and could be reinforced if necessary at a later time. The cables between the towers and the anchor points do not support any weight. Instead, the ends of the Williamsburg bridge are supported from below by girders. This reduced the cost of the bridge and makes it unique among suspension bridges.
The main span of the Williamsburg Bridge, at 1,600 feet, was the longest in the world until the Bear Mountain Bridge was completed in 1924. When the bridge was built, only one bridge in the world was longer: the cantilever-designed Forth Bridge from Scotland. When it opened, the Williamsburg Bridge carried the heaviest load of any bridge in the world. It provided two elevated railroad tracks, four streetcar tracks, two highway lanes in each direction, and pedestrian and bicycle paths over the streetcar tracks.
3. Heavy Metal
The trend-setting metal towers on the Williamsburg Bridge are 333 feet tall and made of more than 3,000 tons of steel each. Approximately 17,500 miles of wire, weighing more than 8,000 tons, were used to make the eight 18-inch-thick cables that suspend the bridge. That’s enough wire to wrap around the Pentagon more than 20,000 times, or to put up a six-wire electric fence around the state of Texas. The massive bridge structure draws more than 140,000 vehicles, 100,000 subway riders, 600 bicyclists, and 500 pedestrians across the East River every day.
4. Seen in popular culture
Interesting facts about the Williamsburg Bridge include its appearance in movies like The Amazing Spider-Man, American Gangster, The French Connection, Johnny Suede, Live and Let Die, The Naked Brothers Band: The Movie, The Naked City, Once Upon a Time in America, Perfume de mujer, Serpico and The siege. He is referenced in the novels The Alienist, City of Bones, The Last Olympian, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins would practice on the bridge and named an album, The Bridge, after him.
New York went wild over the formal opening of the bridge. There were parades in Brooklyn and Manhattan, a fireworks display, and a flotilla of 200 boats on the East River. To mark the 100th anniversary in 2003, Domino Sugar made an enormous cake, consistently described as “the size of a truck”, as part of a celebration that included musicians, street vendors, displays, and a parade of dignitaries across the bridge. The American Society of Civil Engineers designated the Williamsburg Bridge as a National Civil Engineering Landmark in 2009.