Even though it is often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge is just as noteworthy. Some Williamsburg Bridge interesting facts might be surprising. Following are five fun facts about the Williamsburg Bridge.
1. Groundbreaking Design
The Williamsburg Bridge was the first bridge to eschew masonry towers in favor of steel. This choice made the bridge both faster to build and cheaper. It also meant that the towers needed smaller foundations and could be reinforced if need be at a later time. No weight is carried at all by the cables between the towers and the anchor points. The ends of the Williamsburg Bridge are supported underneath by trusses instead. This reduced the cost of the bridge, and makes it unique among suspension bridges.
2. Record Setting
The main span of the Williamsburg Bridge, at 1,600 feet, was the world’s longest until the Bear Mountain Bridge was completed in 1924. When the bridge was built, only one bridge in the world was longer – Scotland’s cantilever-designed Forth Bridge. When it opened, the Williamsburg Bridge supported the heaviest load of any bridge in the world. It provided two elevated railway tracks, four streetcar tracks, two lanes of road in each direction, and foot and bicycle paths above the trolley tracks.
3. Heavy Metal
The trend-setting metal towers of the Williamsburg Bridge are 333 feet tall and made of over 3,000 tons of steel each. Roughly 17,500 miles of wire, weighing over 8,000 tons, were used to make the eight 18-inch-thick cables suspending the bridge. That’s enough wire to wrap around the Pentagon over 20,000 times, or to put a six-strand electric fence the entire way around the state of Texas. The massive structure of the bridge brings more than 140,000 vehicles, 100,000 subway riders, 600 cyclists, and 500 pedestrians across the East River every day.
4. Spotted in Popular Culture
Williamsburg Bridge interesting facts include its appearance in movies such as 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, Scent of a Woman, Serpico, and The Siege. It’s referenced in novelsThe 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, in its honor.
New York went wild for the bridge’s formal opening. There were parades in Brooklyn and Manhattan, a fireworks display, and a flotilla of 200 ships on the East River. To mark the 100th anniversary in 2003, Domino Sugar made an enormous cake – consistently described as “truck-sized” – as part of a celebration that included musicians, street vendors, exhibits, 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.