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130 Years Of Brooklyn Bridge Photos, Decade By Decade

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On May 24, 1883, thousands took part in the hoopla surrounding the grand opening of the longest suspension bridge in the world, which had been built over 13 years at the then-exorbitant cost of $15.5 million. Ships bobbed in the East River as fireworks went off overhead; cannons boomed and a band played. Together, the president and mayor ceremonially walked its span, the same route millions of friends, lovers, commuters, school groups, and tourists have trod in the 130 years since. Over time, the Brooklyn Bridge has been memorialized in countless poems and musical numbers (both old and new, plus at least one band name). It has undoubtedly earned its status as an icon of the city and a beautiful piece of architecture even as, over time, it lost rank as a marvel of engineering.

In honor of the Brooklyn Bridge's milestone birthday this week, we've compiled a large collection of historical photographs from the Museum of the City of New York and the Library of Congress. Taken together, they show the brick-iron-and-steel landmark's long evolution over the years, from the engrossing, scaffolding-less photos of its construction in the gallery above to the selection of images of the bridge over the decades that have followed. From black-and-white to color; from the era when it dwarfed the rest of city to today, when skyscrapers can render the once-dominant bridge small and quaint. Funny thing: a shot of a dockworker having lunch along the East River in its shadow doesn't look all too different from today's waterfront scenes, it's just that the surroundings have utterly transformed. We hope you enjoy this trip through time.

1880s and 90s


1900s


1910s


1920s-1930s


1940s


1950s


1960s-1990s


2000s

There images below come from Curbed's Flickr page, where there are many more modern-day shots.


· Brooklyn Bridge shots from the Curbed Photo Pool [Flickr]
· 100 Historic Photos of the Century-Old Woolworth Building [Curbed]
· Brooklyn Bridge coverage [Curbed]