The Construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, 1869



The Brooklyn Bridge, designed by the German-born engineer J.A. Roebling and his son, was the world's first steel wire suspension bridge. At the time of its completion in 1883, it was also the world's longest bridge, spanning 1595.5 feet across the East River between lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

In this May 16, 1881 issue of the New York Weekly, Vieve Van Buren, a poor New York girl, jumps to her death from one of towers of the Brooklyn Bridge (shown here under construction) after she is caught pawning a stolen watch. At 278 feet, the dizzying height of the bridge was a source of fascination for the public, and the illustration sensationalizes this interest. The weekly installment of the story ends just as the young woman plunges head first toward the water, with arms outstretched and petticoats whirling. Readers eager to know the fate of Vieve Van Buren had to wait in suspense until the next installment appeared at the newsstands.