Author: Sean Brady, managing director, Brady Heywood forensic and investigative structural engineering services
The winter of 1852 was particularly bitter in New York City (1). For days, the frozen East River paralysed ferry traffic between Manhattan and Brooklyn. On one ferry – stranded for hours in the freezing, foggy haze – John Roebling, a bridge engineer, stood beside his 15-year-old son, Washington. Staring at the silhouetted hulks, Roebling would conceive of a bridge to cross the river, a river that many simply believed un-crossable.
The realisation of his vision would culminate in one of the most iconic structural engineering achievements in history, would test the physical and mental resolve of the Roebling family and would result in Emily Warren Roebling, through her intellect and courage, making an historic contribution to the structural engineering profession, with her name becoming forever synonymous with what would become known as the Brooklyn Bridge.