By Mary J. Shapiro
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Extra resources for A Picture History of the Brooklyn Bridge
In the fall of 1872. S A Holmes, a noted New York photographer, was commissioned to record the progress of the bridge towers. The Brooklyn tower had reached the level of the roadway a height of 119'. The engineering crew and workmen pose proudly amid a forest of scaffolding and boom derricks. The vertical tracks running up the sides of the pier guided the blocks of granite as they were hoisted to the top by huge iron pulleys which were powered by steam engines located to the rear of the structure.
A workmen had carelessly held his candle near the highly inflammable oakum caulking between the beams of the ceiling. The flame burned up and into the wooden structure. Because of the oxygen-charged compressed air, it burned so rapidly that it defied all ordinary fire-fighting methods. Roebling finally ordered that the caisson be flooded to make absolutely sure that the fire was extinguished. The fire caused a three-month delay, since all the damaged wood had to be cut out and replaced. But by March 6, 1871, with the restoration work complete, Roebling ordered that the caisson, at a depth of 44'6", be filled with concrete, the last step in the creation of a solid foundation for the tower.
Delicate, precise ink-and-watercolor water shaft where 24 it could be picked up by a clamshell scoop (see •- d E I ,.... < ... -m it n ; i, , ] n. 1 2<5 £540 ^ i 25 38 26 38-43. Views of the interior of the Brooklyn caisson, 1870. New Yorkers were fascinated by accounts of what went on inside the caisson below the surface of the East River. The illustrated news- excavated material would be dumped into the pool beneath the water shaft where it was lifted to the surface by a clamshell scoop. Panel 6 shows workmen sawing timber wedges which were placed papers obligingly printed wood engravings, made from their artists' sketches, of the caisson interior.
A Picture History of the Brooklyn Bridge by Mary J. Shapiro