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This bridge is the second oldest of the East River suspension bridges, and its construction began several years after the Brooklyn Bridge, the oldest of the three, was completed. The bridge is also the longest of the three East River suspension bridges. As a c. 1900 suspension bridge it is an early example of a very large suspension bridge span and is thus considered nationally significant. The bridge's stiffening truss is also significant, as an example of an uncommon truss configuration, the lattice truss. The lattice truss is a complex and aesthetically pleasing configuration that in engineering terms consists of multiple Warren trusses superimposed upon one another.
This bridge is a nationally significant historic bridge whose significance and importance is perhaps underrated simply because it happens to be near the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. This combined, with New York City's fair weather historic bridge preservation commitment actually resulted in a serious consideration to demolish this bridge as recently as 1988! A further lack of concern or awareness for the historic value of the Williamsburg Bridge is evidenced in one of the most distasteful railing/fencing systems ever seen on a historic bridge. The original sidewalk railings (an attractive lattice design) were apparently destroyed to make way for an ugly, massive system of fencing that is painted bright red in striking opposition to the brown paint color of the bridge superstructure. This alteration has destroyed the original pedestrian lattice railings on this bridge. The original railings could have and should have been left on the bridge, even if behind the current modern system of fencing. Furthermore, the massive railings obstruct the view of the historic bridge superstructure, as well as the river. Finally the bright red paint color means that these modern alterations tend to show up in photos where a brown or grey paint color would have helped hide them and allow the historic bridge superstructure to be the focus in photos.
Above: This excellent historical photo clearly shows how the wire cables of the suspension bridge tie into the eyebars at the anchorages. Source: Hungerford, Edward The Williamsburg Bridge, 1903. Digitized By Google.
Above: Views showing tower construction. Source: Hungerford, Edward The Williamsburg Bridge, 1903. Digitized By Google.
Above: The American Bridge Company promoted its work on the towers and approaches for this bridge in advertising of the period. This may be because the Williamsburg Bridge was one of the largest bridges to date that the newly formed company worked on.
Above Left: Photo showing construction of bridge. Above Right: Historical photo taken from top of tower. Source: Library of Congress.
Above: An advertisement for John Roebling Sons company featuring the Williamsburg Bridge indicates that the company did the cable work for the Williamsburg Bridge. The advertisement photo shows where the cables tie into eyebars which lead into the anchorage.
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