Frieder's Williamsburg Bridge Photo's
of Bridge Opening
of Bridge Opening 2
Compiled by Dave "The
Bridge Man" Frieder
Construction Commenced -- Nov. 7th 1896
Construction of Main Cables Commenced-- Aug. 11th 1901
Opened To Traffic-- Dec. 19th 1903 6:00 a.m.
Bridge Commissioner at the Time-- Gustav Lindenthal *
* same person who built Hell Gate Bridge and Queensborough
Bridge [originally known as Blackwells Island Bridge.]
Total length of Bridge-- 7308 feet
Length of Suspended Span-- 1600 feet . 4 feet 6 inches longer
than the Brooklyn Bridge.
Side Spans length each-- 596' 6"
Height of Steel Towers above Mean Water Height-- 332' 9"
Towers sunk to Bedrock by Pneumatic Caisson Method, same as
Center of Roadway above Mean Water Height 135 feet
Stiffening Truss-- 40 feet high, Lattice "Town Type"
Main Cables-- 4. Wires per cable 8112. Strands per Cable 39.
Wires per Strand 208.
All wires in Main Cables are of the Non-Galvanized Type.
Cable Diameter-- 18 6/10 inches including wrapping.
Length of each of the four cables--3224 feet.
Total length of wire in the four cables--23,132 Miles.
Total Weight of Steel in Bridge and Approaches 47,800 Tons.
Approximate cost of construction, in 1903-- $24,188,090.00
When first opened in 1903, Williamsburg Bridge had four
surface or trolley tracks(Streetcars) and two elevated, or
regular train tracks. Regular train service did not cross bridge
until 1908. Now, the bridge, has two inner and two outer
vehicular roadways and two subway tracks. Also two 17' wide foot
The Williamsburg was the first all steel, large scale,
suspension bridge. Leffert Lefferts Buck, chief engineer.
Born in Canton, New York.
Buck felt it was not necessary to galvanize main cable wires.
Side spans not suspended, rather supported by steel viaducts.
Originally one support per side span, in 1913 two extra supports
per span were added due to increased traffic loads. Total of
three supports per side span.
Williamsburg Brooklyn was named after Colonel Jonathan
Williams a U.S. engineer and a a grand nephew to Ben Franklin.
Area was incorporated as a village in 1827. In 1998 Brooklyn
will 100 years as a borough of the City of New York. The
original Dutch spelling of Brooklyn is BREUKELEN.
The Williamsburg Bridge is one of three bridges to use
Non-flexible type of towers. The other two bridges are, the
Brooklyn Bridge and the George Washington Bridge.
The main cables of the Williamsburg bridge were spun by John A.
Roebling Sons inc. Same company spun cables for the magnificent
Manhattan Bridge and the great George Washington Bridge. Since
the wires in the main cables in the Williamsburg Bridge are not
galvanized the bridge engineers have had a problem in terms of
protecting them from corrosion. Recent modern methods have been
used to repair and protect the cables.
VIEW OF MAIN
CABLES AND SADDLE HOUSING
Photo by Dave Frieder
Photos by Library of Congress, Prints and
Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection
LC-USZ62-106878, LC-USZ62-101751, LC-D4-17414 and LC-D4-33447
The Williamsburg Bridge
Information From the Library
On December 19, 1903, New Yorkers celebrated the opening of
the Williamsburg Bridge, the second of three steel-frame
suspension bridges to span the
East River. Designed by Leffert L. Buck and Henry Hornbostel,
it had taken over seven years to complete. Built to alleviate
traffic on the
Bridge and to provide a link between Manhattan and the
Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, the 1,600 foot Williamsburg
Bridge was the world's longest suspension bridge until the
Originally open to horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, and
pedestrians, the Williamsburg Bridge soon became a vital
transportation route for trolleys and trains, spurring the
growth of Brooklyn's working-class neighborhoods. In the 1920s,
the bridge was reconfigured to accommodate eight lanes of
traffic. Today, it carries over 140,000 vehicles per day and
some 100,000 subway riders.
On hand to film the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge were
cameramen James Blair Smith and
G.W. "Billy" Bitzer. Their films,
Opening of New East River Bridge, produced by the
Thomas Edison Company, and
Opening the Williamsburg Bridge, produced by
the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, contain footage of
the bridge and close-ups of the dignitaries and press in
attendance. Note the large wooden "box" cameras carried by the
- See more photographs of the Williamsburg Bridge. Search on
Williamsburg Bridge in these collections: