Today, the New York State Quarter Coin remembers the bridge opening festivities of 133 years ago.
From the Daily True American newspaper of Trenton, NJ:
New York, May 24, 1883.
The bridge is the order of the day, and everything else is out of order. It is needless to repeat here the program in minor detail, furnished fully yesterday.
Let is suffice to say that, under a clear sky and in an invigorating breeze, the ceremonies of opening the great bridge and dedicating it to public use are being gone through.
Of course the crowds along the rout of procession and in the vicinity are immense—such only as New York can get up for an occasion like this.
There is little or no business going on, and as the termini of the bridge on both sides of the river are approached the crush and jam increase in density. Notwithstanding the extensive police and military regulations, the officials having part in the ceremony were some time in pressing their way through.
But they succeeded at last, and the scene as the procession, headed by the President, the Governor and other dignitaries passed over, was an impressive one.
At two o’clock, at the Brooklyn end of the bridge, the program opened as follows:
Music — 23d Regiment Band.
Prayer — Rt. Rev. Bishop Littlejohn.
Presentation Address — On behalf of the Trustees, William C. Kingsley, Vice President.
Acceptance Address — On behalf of the City of Brooklyn, Seth Low, Mayor.
Acceptance Address — On behalf of the City of New York, Franklin Edson, Mayor.
Cornet Solo — Mr. J. Levy.
Oration — Abram S. Hewitt.
Oration — The Rev. Richard S. Storrs, D. D.
Music — 7th Regiment Band.
Salutes of one hundred guns will be fired from Fort Columbus and Greene at the moment the bridge is presented to the two cities.
At 6:30 the bridge will be cleared by the police of the two cities, whose operations will begin at the center of the roadway.
A squad of mounted police will escort Mayor Low, the President, the Governor, Mayor Edson and other guests to the residence of the first named gentleman, corner of Columbia Heights and Pierrepont street. Here the party will dine.
As soon as the bridge is clear, the representatives of Detwiller and Street, of this city, will make their fireworks arrangements.
The display will be made from both towers at nightfall, and continue until 9:30.
At that hour the reception in the Academy of Music will begin.
The Great Bridge.
It will interest readers to reproduce a description of the dimensions and construction of the great bridge now open to the public to travel across the East River.
The New York approach is 1,562 feet long and the Brooklyn approach 971 feet.
These approaches, formed of granite viaducts and graded to an easy ascent, are 100 feet wide, pave with Belgian block, with asphalt sidewalks elevated three feet above the pavement.
On either side they lead up to the anchorages, where the four great cables and the structure of the suspended bridge begin. From these anchorages the distance to the tower on the river’s edge, over the summits of which the cables pass, is 930 fee on each side, or 1,860 feet in all.
Between the towers is the river span, 1,595 feet and 6 inches long.
At the center this span is 135 feet above high water in summer and 138 feet in winter, the difference being due to contraction of the steel.
The roadway at the center is 15 feet higher than at the towers.
The towers are 277 feet high, the two openings in each for the roadway being 19 feet above high water. The summits of the towers are 159 feet above the roadway.
Each of the four great cables contains 5,296 galvanized steel wires, closely wrapped to a solid cylindrical core. The cables are each 15.75 inches in diameter, and they are strong enough to pull up the anchorages, which weigh 60,000 tons each.
The total weight of the suspended structure is 17,780 tons.
From anchorage to anchorage the bridge is a bewildering combination of steel beams, trusses, girders and chords, floored with timber, except in the space reserved for the railway tracks.
There are five parallel avenues on the bridge. The outer two, 19 feet wide, are devoted to vehicles, while in the center is an elevated path, 15.5 feet wide, intended for foot passengers.
On either side of this are the railway tracks, one for cars to Brooklyn and the other for cars to New York.
These cars are run by a cable to the center of the bridge, and then to the end by gravity and momentum, under control of the brakes.
By the cars to be used, 80,000 persons can be taken across in an hour.
This great bridge was outlined and suggested in April, 1860, by John A. Roebling, constructing engineer of the Niagara suspension bridge.
Mainly through the courage and energy of William C. Kingsley, of Brooklyn, the realization of Roebling’s project was made possible, and work was begun on January 3, 1870, by the New York Bridge Company.
In 1874 a law was passed by which the control and completion of the bridge was vested in the two cities, and the work was then prosecuted by trustees appointed for the cities, all private subscriptions being refunded with interest.
The toll charges, which may be changed by future legislative action are: Car fare, 5 cents; foot passengers, 1 cent; horse and man, 5 cents; horse and vehicle, 10 cents; team and vehicle, 20 cents; cattle, 5 cents; sheep and hogs, 2 cents.
The New York State Quarter Coin shows with early images of the East River Bridge connecting New York and Brooklyn.