Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on a zip line

Ephemeral New York

EFfarringtonbrooklynbridgeThe Brooklyn Bridge turns 130 years old on May 24. That’s the date the bridge opened to massive crowds and fanfare in 1883.

The story of its amazing construction has been told many times. Yet one small moment during those 13 years deserves a shout-out: the day the bridge was crossed for the first time.

It wasn’t on foot but by rope. The man who took the plunge was E.F. Farrington, the bridge’s “master mechanic.”

In summer 1876, in preparation for building the steel-wire cables, a wire traveler rope was carefully looped around the anchorages built on each side of the river.

On August 25, after the rope had been secured in place, Farrington gave his workers a demo of how they would be getting from one side to the other, reports The Complete History of the New York and Brooklyn Bridge, published in 1883.

“A boatswain’s chair—a board slung at…

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