Women's History
Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge? The Emily W. Roebling Story

Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge? The Emily W. Roebling Story
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.29

     challenging words:    completion, remainder, analysis, behalf, historic, suspension, fate, engineer, chief, opening, mounted, bridges, ceremonial, speech, proceed, unable
     content words:    United States, Brooklyn Bridge, New York City, East River, John Roebling, Emily Warren Roebling, American Society, Civil Engineers, Emily Roebling, President Chester Arthur

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Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge? The Emily W. Roebling Story
By Joyce Furstenau

1     One of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States is the Brooklyn Bridge. It is located in New York City. It connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn over the East River. Besides being an historic landmark, the Brooklyn Bridge has an interesting history.
2     Construction of the bridge was to begin on January 3, 1870. John Roebling and his son, Washington, were to be the chief engineers. While working on a survey for the bridge, an incoming ferry shook the pylons where John was working. His foot slipped and several of his toes were crushed. He was unable to work and eventually died from his injuries. This left Washington to actually start the construction. As fate would have it, while working underwater on the bridge's caissons, he surfaced too quickly and was too ill to visit the construction site. How could the project continue?
3     Emily Warren Roebling, wife of Washington, ended up being his eyes and ears for the remainder of the project. Each morning, Emily sat down with her husband and took notes about how the project should proceed. She brought the notes to the construction site and shared them with the crew. She took down questions from the workmen for her husband. She kept records, answered the mail, and attended functions on behalf of her husband. She also began to study such things as the strength of materials, cable construction, and stress analysis. Because she became so good, some wondered if Washington was actually still in charge.

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