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tv   The Brooklyn Bridge  CSPAN  January 14, 2017 1:10pm-2:16pm EST

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everyone who is held this job has reached out and offered their advice and counsel. it's a pretty homely experience when you realize you are in a club of 30 people who have held this position. >> watch sunday beginning at 6:35 p.m. eastern on sees and and, or listen on the free c-span radio app. next, architectural historian mary lewis talks about the construction of the brooklyn bridge. mr. lewis looks at why manhattan needed the bridge and how transportation through the city changed at the turn of the 20th century. the new york historical society hosted this hour in five minutes event. >> we are thrilled to welcome mary lewis -- barry lewis back to the new york historical society. he's an architectural historian who specializes in european and american architecture of the 18th and 20th centuries.
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he is best known throughout new york for the series of video walking tours presented by channel 13, including the emmy award nominated shows "42nd street, broadway and harlem." he lectured at numerous vienna -- venues, including columbia, university of pennsylvania and smithsonian and harvard graduate school of planning and architecture. we always like to ask everyone to turn off cell phones and electronic beepers. now let's give barry lewis a warm welcome. thank you. [applause] professor lewis: i don't need that. you know me. i'm all over the stage. actually it is interesting there it i had people talking to me about the lecture. i'm not really talking about the the brooklyn bridge as
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much as brooklyn. new york would never admit it needed brooklyn but it needed it. again, just in case people were not here, it's a series of three lectures. i did the first one about a month ago. remember new york and staten island becomes a premier city by the 1820's and 180's. -- 1830's. 60,000 in manhattan in 1800 and 1875 one million on manhattan island. that is called growth. here on the upper left is an 1860's print of the built up part of manhattan and new york. remember in those days new york city was straightly manhattan island. when you went across the river you were in the independent city of brooklyn. by the time you get to the 1860's the bridge will begin in 1869. the reason it was needed by the time you get to the late 1860's -- downtown new york is the central
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business district of new york. it becomes the central district of america by the 1830's during by 1900's it is the c.b.d. of the world. that means new york is growing. but unfortunately man-to-man is -- manhattan is a long skinny island and the only way to grow is uptown and by the time you get to the 1860's, the time the bridge will be built the middle class people are forced to live as far as west northeast 40's and 50's and 60's east of central park. they have to commute to wall street. women commute to the union madison square area and all that commute is done with horse cars. it is fun in disney world, but if you have been to depend on these things they were horrible. this is an idea of the traffic. that is madison square on the right side and fifth avenue going uptown.
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broadway is off to the left. look at that backup of horse cars. if you're headed to wall street, that is another three miles. you think commutation today is awful. it was pretty awful back then. when you got downtown on the left is a cartoon of what was the busiest intersection in america and one of the busiest in the world. that is broadway and fulton st. the portico is saint paul's church which is still there. there is the u.s. post office which my goodness is not there today. the preservationists saw over that but that stood until 1938 and that is broadway going towards tribeca. that is park road toward the brooklyn bridge. you notice chicago on the right. he was no better. that was the middle of the loop in the 1890's. nobody is going anywhere fast. the problem was the street systems of our cities could not take all the people. everybody is piled on to the street and you had to get people off the street. one way or another.
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ok. remember i mentioned last week what we call brooklyn today is basically king's county. originally that was six separate towns. they were founded by the dump -- dutch and recognized by the english. brooklyn was one of them. it was the closest to new york and new york was the economic engine of america beginning in the 1830's. that economic activity spills over into brooklyn. sure, if you wanted to live in manhattan, you can live uptown and the ease 40's, 50's and 60's. if you could live in brooklyn, you were across from the central business district. this is important to remember because we think of wall street as the financial district but it is c.b.d. and all you had to do was cross that river and you would have a wonderful neighborhood to live in. if you know brooklyn, you can realize if you think about there
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but across from the c.b.d. , the central business district were fine middle class row house neighborhoods of the 19th begins with brooklyn heights and most expensive to live in. as you fan out from brooklyn heights you have harold gardens, cobble phil, park slope, the top of prospect heights and these were fine middle class neighborhoods to serve the people who worked in the c.b.d. around wall street. in the 1850's, brooklyn annexed the independent city of williamsburg and rest of old town of bushwick. what was that area across from? it wound up being the cross from manhattan from the lower east side, which was becoming the main immigrant district of the city. the immigrants lower east side is the densest urban district in the world and you have these immigrants in new york and they
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are packed together in tenements . they are looking across the river and saying why aren't we on the other side? that included my grandparents who came in 1910 and wound up in williamsburg which is where my father was born. to the immigrants, they basically came to williamsburg. it is interesting. when brooklyn annexed williamsburg and bushwick they called it the eastern addition. i never understood why. as a kid i thought it was on the north side of brooklyn but they , called it the eastern addition and that eastern addition, because of its proximity to the lower east side the immigrant section of new york, that eastern addition got the spillover from the other -- lower east side from williamsburg and green point. here is a map of the neighborhoods of brooklyn. from williamsburg and green point they spilled into bushwick , which is exactly what's going on now with the young people. and they spilled -- sorry.
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they spilled over into williamsburg and green point and bushwick, east new york, cypress hills an over the board into queens where i grew up in woodhaven. when i grew up in woodhaven we called the brooklyn line the city line and it is still called that today. there is a whole discount area on the city line. this area the eastern addition was the tenement packed immigrant area which became the city of brooklyn. but across from new york across , from the c.b.d. you had such fine neighborhoods from fort green, to the prospect heights. middle class housing for the middle class people headed to wall street to their corporate jobs. jessica over what i went over in the first lecture, remember the ferry to fulton street and fulton street-brooklyn starts in the 17th century but 1814 it goes high
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tech. a steam driven fairy. now you know you are going to get to brooklyn and that is when brooklyn takes off and where the ferry landed. this is the road to jamaica. we called it fulton street today. brooklyn heights is to the left on a ridge. the moment you come off the piers you go up to a height. that is brooklyn height. to the right, no the north it is a pretty flat land. recall that down under the manhattan bridge overpass, dumbo. it is an industrial area that is fast gentrifying. where you see brookland ferry is where brooklyn bridge park is. the first ferry was to fulton street. then by the time to the 1830's. -- 1840's, he, this is facing the ease river. south is to the right and ferry to fulton street is to the left. there it is. in the 1830's this is at the east river and starts another
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ferry. in the 1850's the pierponts finally decide to develop their property and put in a ferry from montague street over to wall street. so you have three ferries within a few blocks of each other and there was no place to put another ferry. and by the time you get to the 1860's they are overrun with people. there was really no place to put another one. here is a 19th century photograph of the montague street dock. this again is the pierpont property. if that is the ferry, i'm not sure. it took you from her to wall -- here to wall street. there is montague on the down slope to bring down from the heights of brooklyn heights to the waterfront and here is another view looking at montague street. it looks so quiet and people. you think how lovely 8:30 on the weekday morning 10 minutes on , the river
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, birds are chirping and the waves are lapping. give it another thought because that is what 8:30 on a weekday morning was like. nikki reed was awful. -- the commute was awful. the cartoons tell you the truth and you notice it seems like noah's ark. that is how you had to deal with it. it is what you had to deal with every morning at 8:30. it is like noah's ark or the last train out of russia before the war begins. we have it a hard but i think they had it harder. and sometimes even the east river would freeze. as if everything else was going wrong, you get out of work at 5:30. you are tired, want to go home and you walk across ease river. you hope the ice doesn't break and you fall in. who knows how thick the river is? you notice a brooklyn ferry frozen until the thaw comes. it was 1867 when this freeze took place. visiting the city at the time
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and seeing the freeze, seeing people impeded from going across the east river except by foot and he knew that he had a better way of doing it. visiting new york was this fellow, john roebling. you never invited him to dinner to tell jokes. but he was a brilliant man, german by birth and education. he was an engineer trained at the best schools because it was germany. his philosophy teacher was hagel. he said where do you think the future is and hagel said the new world. forget europe, it is the old world. it is finished. go to the new world. he did and wound up in northeastern pennsylvania and there he created a machine that created wire rope. actually little thin strands of wire out of steel and you bundle them and you got wire rope. with wire rope and then the bundles were bundled together
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i wire cable steel cable. , a with the steel cables you could suspend roadways but also aqueducts for canals that needed to cross the landscape. absolutely brilliant. when he was in new york and saw the east river freeze he knew that the suspension bridge technology that he used for the canal aqueducts he could adapt it to the brooklyn bridge. except the brooklyn bridge would be far longer than anything ever built, and i'm talking about the central span him which is what it has to hold up the here is a print of what the future bridge would look like. they called it the bridge to long island and others called it the new york brooklyn bridge and some east and eventually got the name brooklyn bridge. on the upper left you see the delaware aqueduct that he designed to bring the delaware and hudson canal over the delaware river.
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that is a river underneath it. the canal is over it and the suspension bridge technology allow the largest clearance the , widest clearance for boats on the delaware river. that was the reason suspension technology was used. today it is a roadway. i was there many years ago and it may be only a pedestrian bridge, i don't know. but the technology -- it is a beautiful structure north of port jervis and north of interstate 84 and connects pennsylvania with new york right above port jervis. that bridge is only 500 plus feet long. the brooklyn bridge will be a mile long but the central span will be 1,600 feet. that central span is very important. that is why the suspension technology was used. it gave you the widest span. the east river was a very busy commercial river and it couldn't be blocked by a pier to hold up
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the bridge. with suspension technology you had 1,600 feet of space for ships to pass. very, very important. by the way his wire was used in , the bridge. at some point it wasn't but that was the scandal. if you want to know about the building of the bridge, you read david mccullough's book. it was written in the 1980's. at the time the bridge was 100 years old. that roeblng wire is going to be in operation independently until the 1950's. it will be used in the george washington bridge opened in 1931. by the way, the g.w. bridge has a central span that is twice the length of the brooklyn bridge but g.w. is a shorter bridge because it goes from cliff to cliff. from the palisades cliffs in jersey to those in new york morningside heights.
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the brooklyn bridge is going from the flatlands to fulton street. that is flat and has to be a longer bridge. you notice it comes down to clark road and this is the city hall park. it is taking you you from the center of the central business district of new york to the heart of the business district of the city of brooklyn. that is why it was placed where it was placed. now in surveying for the bridge ,in 1869, roebling and his son are on the dock surveying and a brooklyn ferry came in and the operator missed where he was supposed to dock the ferry and it rammed into john and crushed his leg and in 10 days he died of lock jaw, very horrible dealt. in 1869, before it is begun he is out of the picture. the fellow who really built the bridge is this guy.
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washington roebling. he knew if the name remained in history it would always be associated with john roebling. he knew that nobody really noticed he was around. he was the guy who actually built the bridge, but in the 1900's and he was interviewed and said to a reporter most people think i died in 1869. that is when his father was killed in the accident. but he did an amazing job of building the bridge. within a year of its construction he takes it over from his father. he comes down with the benz, the construction caissons which become the towers was done under very high pressure air. if you go in high pressure two surface pressure air it is quite a difference and causes a problem if you go too fast nitrogen bubbles in the blood. for some it was fatal.
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28 men died from the work on the bridge. it was a dangerous job. some from accidents and some from the benz. that means this fellow in 1870 to 1883 he is basically a semi invalid and oversees it from a house that no longer exists. it was demolished to make way for the brooklyn-queens expressway in the 1950's. he was invalid for all that time . through binoculars or maybe or on a badescope day he would take of the violin, but he would do all of the drawings as he saw the bridge progressing but they had to be taken to the bridge and he could do that. whoever took it to the engineers will to know what the drawings were about. who did he choose to do that? his wife emily roebling. what a fascinating lady she was. she basically learned basic
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engineering from her husband so that she could take the drawings to the engineers on the bridge. they, being all men, were not too happy taking orders from a woman. but she was so confident and knew so well what she was doing , she was so efficient. she had the right manner about her that they can to respect her so much that when the brooklyn bridge to open in 1883 she got the honor of driving the first carriage over the brooklyn bridge. after it was built she went back to being a housewife. she was happy to do that. she died in the early 1900's of cancer. her husband who was invalid during the time got better after it opened and i could imagine why he was invalid. bridges kept on collapsing back then. he was a roebling. i'm sure he felt his bridge would never collapse. yet, you never know. so in the back of his mind he
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could have seen the scenario it is built, it opens and it falls into the river. no wonder he was nervous. after it was built his nerves settled down and he got over most of the medical problems he had and outlived his wife about 25 years and ran the wire company until the early 1900's . it worked out of trenton. the factory might still be there. there is a roebling, new jersey. there is a roebling museum and it is dedicated to the wire company and brooklyn bridge. he basically winds up running the company even in his 70's. he didn't like the way his grandson was running it and came out of retirement and ran it. he lives until the 1920's. the last major person involved with the construction. sick as he was in the almost died, he is the last of them to
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survive. there was another character involved, william marcy tweed. boss tweed. he was representative of the corrupt politics of the day. there is a story of how he tried to noodle his way into the funding of the bridge. he was at the height of his power at the beginning of the construction, but fell from power in the 1870's. today we have a new view of william marcy tweed. a lot of people say the reformers who hated him wanted the immigrants to be nice white angelo saxon yankees. he didn't care what language they spoke or where they were from. he understood they needed coal to heat their apartments and needed a job to put food on the table and he got both of them for the immigrants, so they gave him their vote. it is interesting. it is 1876, 100 years after the revolution and you could imagine considering the corruption that went all the way to the white
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house that you wonder maybe the europeans were right. that democracies don't always know what they are doing. but we survived tweed and hayes in the white house and all these people. we managed. the brooklyn bridge itself very dangerous job. this is an illustration out of david mccullough's book. this is one of the caissons that will be the foundation. it was basically a huge breadbasket made out of wood turned up side down and pushed to the bottom of the river by stones on top and inside the hollow caisson -- and they pumped in high pressure air to keep the water out. the men are working with high pressure air and at the end of the job eight hours, 12 hours they would go to a decompression tube and spend five minutes and be on the surface. not a good idea. they wanted to get home to their
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families. they spent 12 hours working and they were tired. the interior of the cason on the left or right are two different scenes. on the left you see one of the guys climbing into a decompression chamber. he won't be spending enough time there. by the way these guys working class probably the immigrants that boss tweed got his votes from. they were lucky because in 1873 the stock market crashed and we had a horrible depression in the 1870's but these guys had jobs. in the middle of the depression no different than the 1930's the best thing is to have a job on a big project like a dam or some railroad system or the brooklyn bridge. on the right, this guy is working by the gas lamp. very bad combination. there was a horrible fire in one of the caissons. i think that is where washington roebling came down with the
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bends. but when it began until 1883 during that period we invented the electric light and invented the telephone. edison was working on moving pictures and within three years of the bridge being opened we build the world's steel frame first sky scraper. not that we trusted it but we built it. so the world is changing. when the brooklyn bridge began we had barely completed the first transcontinental railroad. time itypos finished -- was finished five railroads are running across the country. that was the end of the plains indians and that's not a great chapter in america history but it was the industrial civilization of america over the continent. where did the profit and power go? it came back to new york. because we were the city of the country and anybody who was making money wanted an office in new york. they could not live in new york. they wanted to live in brooklyn. that is why this bridge is being
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built. here is 1877. new yorkers are finally seeing the scale. it is like the pyramids of ancient egypt rising above a low rise walk-up city. this is the brooklyn tower to the right. we are looking across to the hudson river and that is new jersey palisades. by the way, in the heart of downtown new york we begin to see high-rise buildings because of the coming of the elevator. the elevator was first introduced in the 1850's and everybody wanted to see one. nobody would ride it. they were afraid of it. by the 1870's, people began to get used to it and developers began to build high-rise office buildings with a height of 10 stories. they loomed above the city. you had to get in an elevator to get to the top offices and for the first time in history the offices at the top which used to be the worst, hottest, cheapest,
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you had to climb up five stories to get there. now you got there with an elevator and the developer would offer you an office with a view. and they would charge you top dollar and you thought you were so lucky you had a view from the top of the buildings and saw the entire metropolitan area. those towers, they say they are 277 feet high. i'm not sure from where because that is a river and it goes up and down and the buildings probably didn't go higher than 230 feet and that is higher than any of those buildings. so it really was of a scale that you cannot imagine. look at this. it is being built on the new york side and when it was built it came down, that is the new york anchorage being built and it came down in the middle of this five-story city and the city came up to the bridge. when i was a young kid and would run around lower manhattan it was before they had ripped down a lot of the buildings around
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the brooklyn bridge and was so much part of the city and today the bridge is physically separated from the city because you have the traffic interchanges and ramps connected on the brooklyn and new york side. it was not part of the city any -- a more. you can't really go up to it and touch it. it doesn't have the impact to me that it had when it rose out of of the walk up city. look at the scale of it and we are looking from the will you -- looking at it from the hudson river. 1877, 1878. they are beginning to string the cables. there are a few elevator buildings but otherwise a walk up city and look how the towers rose above the city. it was impressive. it still is. probably one of the most sacred structures in new york. people come here just to walk up to it.
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here is a view of the cables being strung. it is probably 1878 or 1879. they are wire bundled together and go over the top and we look toward manhattan and there are the elevator office buildings. the central business district. here is brooklyn on the left you and -- andy c that tower with -- and you see that tower with the mansard roof? that is the fulton ferry terminal. that is the empire stores. i remember when they had storage there. now they are kind of part of brooklyn bridge park and i have been there for a dance concert. they do all kinds of things in it. look at that cable going up over the bridge. i don't know if you noticed, the first all weather route to brooklyn or to new york was this wooden walkway that ran over the top of the towers following the path of the cable. i don't know who they got to walk on it but it wouldn't be me.
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here is the new york side. there is new york anchorage and there are the elevator office buildings in the background. this is the brooklyn side. that is probably front seat. that means fulton street is on the left. i can barely see the tower of the fulton ferry term and to the right is today's neighborhood. -- dumbo neighborhood. look at this. the photographer had to climb up this walkway to the top of the brooklyn tower, all that protects you from falling off is a kind of mesh that you can't even see and a rope you hold on to. i don't know how he did it but he is up there at the top looking back to brooklyn. do you notice when they designed the bridge they wanted it to come down in the commercial area of brooklyn, not residential brooklyn heights. it comes down into brooklyn just one building away from fulton street.
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that is fulton street down to the fulton ferry. now brooklyn bridge park. it is running up and turning right and winds up in front of brooklyn city hall which you really can't see if this -- in this photograph. i don't know if you see how densely built up it was. it was the heart of old brooklyn and the bridge was purposely designed to run in back of the commercial properties so it wouldn't disturb fulton street, the oldest part of brooklyn. you can imagine the intense commercial activity of that street and that street did not provide urban renewal and all of that, that whole section of fulton street was ripped out in the 1950's and we are looking up fulton street and that is the brooklyn queens expressway and this is past the anchorage toward the dumbo.
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nothing ever got built. all of this was demolished. for what? i have no idea. no wonder we needed her. she understood we were destroying our city. this business called urban renewal. this is a perfect example of why they thought it necessary to rip out the commercial heart of old brooklyn i don't know. but that is what we have today. it has been this way since 1950. that is a good 65,70 years. whether or not they ever build anything there i have no idea. that is what it was. now the anchorage. the brooklyn anchorage -- again, this is where the cables came down and were anchored into the earth. this is only a sketched part of it. that anchorage weighed 60,000 tons to keep that cable in place. i don't understand the engineering because inside the anchorage there is a hollow cord this a runs up several stories.
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in the 1990's, before 9/11, they opened up the anchorage for all kinds of evening activities off broadway theatre. dance, music concerts. i was there for several kinds of events. i loved it. the events were not always so terrific, but being in the anchorage was wonderful. sometimes you know the venue is more interesting than what you are there to see but that is the way it is of. i love the anchorage but as soon as we had the attack on 9/11 they closed it. i doubt it will ever open again. it was beautiful construction. if you're into construction, it was just amazing to go into it. here it is 1881 and they are putting in the roads. you notice the roads are suspended from the cables. that is the point of the suspension bridge. ahn roebling in 1869 designed .rought iron road but they are building a steel framed road and when the brooklyn bridge feels turned into a car only bridge in the
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1940's they didn't have to do much strengthening because that steel frame roadway would support modern car traffic. i don't think it can support heavy trucks and buses and that is why they are banned from the brooklyn bridge. another thing. by the way you are looking , toward new york and i don't know if you have noticed as i have been talks you notice these two guys hanging out. it was a good second and 42nd street, but they are right in the middle of this walkway. one of them looks like he is just nonchalantly leaning against this rope as if he couldn't care less. which he probably doesn't and that is why he is there. washington roebling designed the approaches. not john. john roebling didn't live long enough. this is totally washington roebling's work. they are quite handsome. nobody notices them today because they are buried behind highway ramps.
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but in the 1880's, even when i was a kid you could come right up to these approaches. he designed the underpasses that ran the streets through. he designed them very wide so the anchorage without feeling of old. the details beautiful. the bolts have never been useful. too damp, too much vibration. they never really found of use. but the anchorage, both are quite handsome. 20th century functional work and handsomely done and nobody notices them today. may of 1883, the bridge ochs and people celebrate and they can get home to brooklyn. by the way, when the bridge was opened if enough of the fairies out of business. they were running at capacity. all through the 1880's and mid 1890's brooklyn annexed all of
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kings county and had reached one million people. they could not stop the fairies. the only thing that put the ferries out of business was the coming of the subway to brooklyn in the 1920's. that put a dent in the ferry traffic. but the bridge alone, no. because there were so many people trying to get across there bridge in both directions. here is opening day in may of 1883. you notice there were pedestrians on the roadways and in the middle is the elevated promenade that john roebling designed. he was proud of it. he called it the boulevard in the sky. in recent years it was opened to bicyclists. there's been a bit of a confrontation between bicyclists and pedestrians. right now they are figure out if they can widen that promenade because they really need to do it with all the bicyclists and pedestrians.
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it was one of john roebling's proudest features of the brooklyn bridge because he felt crowded new yorkers could feel like a bird and they could sail over the east river on his bridge. he gave them the best view. you are up above the cars and carriages and looking over them. think about it williamsburg and man-to-man bridge the walkways -- manhattan bridge and the walkways are at the same level as the traffic. here you were above it. the brooklyn bridge was opened with two cable cars on either side of the promenade. they were strictly for the bridge. and when the bridge opened the cable cared closed at night but by the late 1880's they had to go 24 hours a day. that was the nature of new york. london, the underground, only in the last year has it gone to 24-hour operation. london, one of the greatest cities world and the subway would close by midnight.
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not any more. in new york you couldn't have anything closing down even in the 1880's and 1890's. those lands under john roebling would've and gas but , there is 1883 and they are electric. one of the first times a lot of people saw electric lighting when they walked across the brooklyn bridge. and because of the nature of the roadway and cables this is basically the world's first all steel and stone bridge. is metal is not we have gone past the age iron. this is the bridge coming into new york and you see the cable cars at work and how the city really was coming right up to the bridge. the bridge came right through into the city. there was a wonderful relationship between the two. those cable cars would eventually be ripped out so that the brooklyn l train could come across the river and they built in the early 20th century a terminal over park row. that is city hall park the
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municipal building with civic virtue way at the top. far away from all of us. and hall of records on chamber street. this terminal went through various variations. by the way, one of thomas edison's first moving pictures is a trip over the brooklyn bridge on either the cable car or l train. i don't know what he was on. i think you can view it. you start over in brooklyn and come over the bridge. so you can go back in the past to a certain extent as much as we need to. so, the city of brooklyn is -- this is 1910 and it has been annexed to new york but the city of brooklyn is growing by leaps an bounds. a million by the 1890's and two million by the early 1920's. that is a lot of growth. you can't do this with horse cars. you had the bridge but how do
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you get there? if you have neighborhoods that are growing and being developed far from the bridge, you cannot bring all the people up to the bridge in horse cars. it doesn't do it. so brooklyn built in the 1880's , and early 1890's. an l train system that would feed the bridge. four out of the five train minds and about the brooklyn bridge. the fifth line is the line that feeds the eastern addition that is broadway in brooklyn and out of towners don't realize there are three broadway's. manhattan, new york and brooklyn and astoria , queens. this ran through williamsburg, bushwick, east new york, cypress hills and extended over the city line through woodhaven in the early 20th century. this is an l train system not an elevated subway. it is a more primitive technology and couldn't handle
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the numbers of people that a subway today could handle but those days it was a miracle , because you were not on the street. you knew when you took the l train it would take you a certain amount of time to get there but it took that time. in l.a., they say if you have to go someplace it is 20 minutes away you plan for a two-hour trip because of the freeways and it is fascinating. l.a. people have all of their lives in the trunk of their car because they never know if the traffic will be horrible or i will get there in 20 minutes and then i will have an hour and a half to kill. with the l train system you knew when you were going to get over the brooklyn bridge to park row and these the l trns encouraged the building of fine townhouse neighborhoods. we will see what i'm talk about in a minute. this is the post-civil war when all of the cities are suffering from too many people and too little space. note the streets can't handle it
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at all. everybody is looking to put the new transportation above the street. here are various proposals, including on the upper right, a monorail. i love it. when i was a kid in the 1950's we had popular science and monorail would be the transportation of the future. it is great in disney world and seattle at the world's fair but , that is about it. here is actually on the upper left how a real l train system looked. that is the ninth avenue l the first l train line that new york built in the 1870's. it is only three cars long. i remember the l train cars but only as a kid. i'm sure they were narrower than subway cars. the l train system, all of them were two tracks only. they never stopped every three
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to five blocks and pulled by a steam driven locomotive. this is so american and new york. look where they put it. over the sidewalks of ninth avenue right next to people's apartments over the stores. so that the day that it went into operation you had six feet from your window this l train coming by chugging by and it is nosy, but that's a lot of smoke and sanders. it went into people's apartments or along the sidewalk. so, new york. so brooklyn. lower right you see northeastern paris and in europe when you see elevated mass transit it is in the middle of the boulevard. roadways are on either side and sidewalks on either side of the road they never would put a train on top of a sidewalk or a street the way we do in america. this of course led to life under the l. a lot of people can't imagine anybody living with these things
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but i grew up in an l train , neighborhood. the one i grew up on jamaica was converted to subway service so they had to rebuild there. but we referred to as the l. life with an l, we just took it for granted. you would have conversations on jamaica avenue the train would come by and noise ground out the -- drown out the conversation you would stop and both parties look in different directions, the train passed and both parties within start the conversation exactly at the syllable they left off. if you parked under the l you got dings because nuts and bolts were always falling. but we lived a half block away if you need to go to sleep, there is nothing like an l train a half a block away rumbling in the distance to make you fall asleep. when we moved when i was 11 to a quiet neighborhood without an l
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none of us could sleep for a week. it was too quiet. you get used to these things. and, really, you wonder how life could be led without them. this is new york but the l train station in the brooklyn system much very much like this. this is the sixth avenue l at 14th street. i remember these stations. beautiful cascading roofs and multicolored tile and beautiful melt work. wooden stick style station house and then there were waiting rooms for men and women inside. above the windows were stain glassed transoms. quite handsome. when i would go someplace with my mother we would wait in the waiting room if it was cold or waiting in the handsome waiting room. back then it was franklin stove's. when i was around it was electric heaters. but when the train, your train, was only one station away a buzzer would sound and you go on the platform and wait a few minutes and the train would come
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along. it was civilized. it was lovely. people hated the l's by the 20th century. cannot wait to get rid of them. going out to the upper country. but it could be brooklyn. in brooklyn the built up section would be there. in brooklyn there could be fulton street l being built out into the country, into the farmlands of bedford and what would be stuyvesant heights. it could be fifth avenue in brooklyn where it came down fifth avenue and led to the development of the park. -- park slope and sunset park. and remember, the l train brought with it the row houses. we would not live in apartment houses until the end of the 20th century. middle-class people in america. we insisted as the english did in living in a proper row house. this happens to be harlem, 133rd
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street but it could be crown heights, bedford. fort green. clinton hill. that is how the cities were developed. here is again all of these lines took you to the brooklyn bridge except one line that ran along broadway brooklyn took you to the williamsburg ferries and then over the bridge opened, it took you to delancey street. with the coming of the l system you had -- the neighborhoods that are classic brooklyn neighborhoods are there because of the l train. here is the fifth avenue line that runs down or ran down the west side of brooklyn led to the development of park slope. the upper side, houses of sunset park that is the fifth avenue l train line. the fulton street l train led to the center brooklyn but to bedford and stuyvesant.
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this is a 1980's photograph on the left. it is made to look at one grand mansion. i think that is hancock street off marcy near what was the fulton street l. these are houses on stuyvesant avenue in the historic district. they were built in the early 1900's because of the l. there was no subway. and what about flatbush? this is the dutch reformed church on flatbush. looking south from the dutch reform church and it looked like it was upstate new york but with the coming of the l the l train system hooked up with an older commuter line that took you across the flat lands of brooklyn to brighton beach and because of that hook-up with the l train system by the 1900's in flatbush you began to get the developed of these beautiful suburban developments.
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you are looking in the black and white at prospect park south when it was first built when that was successful the whole series of neighborhoods were built adjacent to the brighton line south. this photograph in prospect park south is looking toward coney island avenue. prospect park is a few blocks to the right and the rest of the neighborhoods, beverly square west and fisk paris all to the left. the brighton line is immediately in back of us and here the neighborhood is brand-new and today the trees arch over the streets and you cannot see the houses. the house on the left -- here is a close-up on the lower left and spectacular houses. that whole area is coming back. on flatbush avenue in that area is the 1930's that was just restored and reopened. i haven't been there but i plan to go.
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i hear they did a magnificent job. that whole area is changing around. just to show you that l trains were not subways, this is the last of the brooklyn l trains, the myrtle avenue l and lasted until 1969. can you imagine if this was around today, it would be a huge tourist attraction. i'm not sure if you would be using it to go to work because those are wooden cars. they had to use wooden cars right to the end because they never rebuilt the structure below. the eastern avenue of the martin avenue l was turned into a subway line but they never reconstructed this so it had to carry wooden cars and the interior, this is in 1969, an l train interior. not subway. an l train interior.
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i remember it being narrower than our modern subways. it was mostly seated passengers, aisle where only a single line of people could stand. i remember this from the height of four feet so i was a kid. i always wondered if i would get tall enough to hold the strap. i held on that. corners soout in the people can hold onto them. plus the open window. when i was growing up, there was no air conditioning on subways or l trains. as a kid they taught me to look both ways and keep your wits and you never stick your head out of a subway or l train. you did not have it in a couple
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of seconds. by the way, among other features the guy with the guy with the book on his lap -- you can about see the rattan seats. i can still smell them and feel them. the girls hated them because it would put a run in their stockings. but they were part of the l trains and early subways. picture this today with the sky scraper city we have in the 20th century this was not going to , work. this system was a two-generation system. they built it, used it and by the 1920's they were demolishing it. it served its purpose and we had to move on. can you imagine with 8.5 million people getting around on these things? again, it disney world it is fun, but i'm not sure we want to live on it. the brooklyn bridge will cause a tremendous growth in brooklyn and that l train system will tap into it. but the brooklyn leaders knew when you came home to brooklyn
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you needed more than a house and back door and more than an l train and bridge. so what did they do? you see the sky on the right. the statue is at the entrance of prospect park. nobody notices him. i will bet most people think that is the mad hatter from "alice in wonderland." but he is the father of the brooklyn park and parkway system. a brilliant man and wonderful man whereas in new york the person who created central park had to deal with andrew green, he was what we called in my day in new york a doll. he was just a doll to deal with. they loved him.
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it is a long story but he got these two guys to cross the east river and come to brooklyn. they had created central park. that is the architect and they got a chance to do in brooklyn what they could never do in new york because new york real estate was too expensive. in brooklyn, they created -- here is central park that they created in new york, but in brooklyn, they created prospect park. they considered it a much better park than central park and their masterpiece. by the way, on the right grand army plaza leads to downtown brooklyn. on the left, that would be flatbush. prospect gardens is over here and the town of flatbush is south of the park. they loved prospect park. it gave them the room to create three distinct landscapes. meadows, woods, and water. more than that, they got to create things in brooklyn that they couldn't do in new york.
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they greened the city of brooklyn, and it would be a template of how all american cities could green themselves. prospect park took advantage of the fact that here in new york we have the line of hills that runs through the new york metropolitan area and created by the ice cap. millions of years ago when the ice cap came down it shoved in front of it organic debris and it stopped here in the middle of what is now new york city and receded, left a pile of rubbish, so to speak, that we know as the terminal moraine. before the modern era, if you had money, you lived at the top of the hill because you didn't know how diseases came about, and all you knew is if you lived at the top, all of the evil vapors would flow away from your family. so it is important to know where the top of the hill is in terms of history and here it comes up
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the eastern side of staten island, some of the best of the neighborhoods over there. brian hills, told hills, lighthouse hills are in the terminal moraine. they are in the narrows up the western edge of brooklyn and that is the ridge and bay ridge and slope in park slope are all because of the terminal moraine. it makes a right turn and where it makes a right turn at that elbow, that is where prospect park is located. then it runs eastward and on top
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of that ridge of the terminal moraine is where they put one of their two parkways something they could not do in new york. it then runs northeast across northern long island. in this map on the top is park slope and then at grand army plaza it makes a right turn and comes in this direction. that is why eastern parkway is built where it was built and there is prospect park in the elbow with the first thing they could do in brooklyn they could not do in new york. east of flatbush avenue they set aside a triangular piece of land for all of the major cultural institutions of this great city of brooklyn, and eventually brooklyn library and museum and botanic guards and for 50 years -- gardens, and for 50 years at the southern tip of the gardens one of the great civic monuments, ebbets fields. where the dodgers play. all of this could go on and be independent of prospect park. they didn't want buildings in parks.
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they said we live in cities that are full of buildings. they got there triangle of cultural institutions on the other side of flatbush avenue and also could build in brooklyn parkways. it took you from prospect park across the flat lands and purposely didn't build it along the ridge of the terminal moraine. they wanted you to feel the landscape of the flat lands of brooklyn and at the northern end. another parkway ran east along the ridge of the terminal moraine, eastern parkway. it ended at ralph avenue because that was the city limit. these two parkways much meant to extend the feeling of country side. this is eastern parkway in the 1890's. it looks a little different today. the whole point of the parkway was it was a linear strip of countryside and not a boulevard. this is a boulevard. in this photograph is a festival so they put sod over the road
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, but that is generally the road. it is an urban street. for those not familiar with paris, between the trees and buildings are wide sidewalks with cafes and restaurants with people spilling on the sidewalks. wide sidewalks for strolling. this is urban and this is a greenbelt. two different ways of approaching city planning. we are very angry. we wanted to get to the country and that's what we did. and rising above eastern parkway the brooklyn museum. that is out of focus but rising up in a -- it was meant to rise out of a country setting. it kind of does even to this day. the other thing they were able
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to do in brooklyn is create a three tier park system. prospect park the mother, midsized park for green park would give everybody in the northern neighborhoods of brooklyn what they could get in prospect park they couldn't walk to it that easy so it gave them a wooded ramble, meadows, hyde park corner where anybody could get up and say what they want to. and you had it all there. and they created for what became the neighborhood we call bed-stuy two tiny squares thompson contingents park which is now bunting and saratoga park were tiny squares to serve the neighborhood around.
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so you had prospect park, fort green park and two middle squares. in the 1890's without using them they built a second midsized and called it sunset park. and it is located south of greenwood cemetery on top of the ridge. when the fifth avenue l train was built in the 1880's and this area opened up to development, they called the neighborhood sunset park after the park itself. so, all of these neighborhoods basically were able to benefit from the fact that they gave american cities a template for greening themselves. thompkins park now qualified, saratoga square as well, and showing you the neighborhoods that some of you don't know brooklyn, you're not familiar with brooklyn, the neighborhoods i just mentioned, sunset park built off the fifth avenue l.
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they both benefited from the greening of brooklyn. fort greene, and east of it, clinton hill, benefited from the myrtle avenue el, bedford stuyvesant, as well asen crown heights, and flatbush from the brighton line. so they had transportation, they had the bridge, but they had a green framework that brooklyn could grow around. and as a matter of fact, olmstead realized that this was his life's work. eventually by the mid 1870's, he separated professionally, but olmstead went on to green the american cities based on what he had done in brooklyn back in the 1860's. and that greenbelt, it actually is part of a greenbelt that, well, it's not exactly a continuous greenbelt, but it runs throughout the brooklyn-queens area. on the lower left, prospect park left, prospect park and ocean parkway taking you to the beaches of the atlantic ocean, where the green line makes a right turn. that is eastern parkway. eastern parkway extension, not exactly landscape, but the
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original, but it's kind of in the spirit of the original. that takes you to the new edges. city of brooklyn. and then in the 1890's, with the advice of olmstead, the city of brooklyn created a greenbelt between itself and the rural county of queens. that includes highland park at the brooklyn edge, forest park at the queens edge, and a series of cemeteries in between. robert moses put the jackie robinson park way through the greenbelt in the 1930's. from those cemeteries, you have magnificent views of the manhattan skyline. people wondering, always wonder why they gave the cemeteries the best views. remember, the cemeteries were semipublic parks. and on summer weekend, you would go have a picnic in the cemetery around the grave of a deceased relative, a family friend, somebody you loved, and they would be part of the picnic. we don't do that anymore. we have a very different view of death. i can't say it's an improvement, but we have a different view of death. and then if you can ignore the queue garden interchange, the a
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is where the unisphere is, and the citi field just north of it. then you access the queens botanical far dense directly east of the parkway. cunningham park, and from cunningham park the old vanderbilt motor highway. back in the 1900's, one of the vanderbilts built america's first road that was tailored to the car. it was meant to take the wealthy car owners out to long island, i'm sure race horses, car race horses. but with the vanderbilt -- i keep on wanting to say parkway, the roadway, which is now a bike path and a hiking path, you access ally pond park, and that gives you access to little neck bay, douglas, and on the east, bayside on the west.
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so you have a greenbelt running through a piece of land two boroughs in new york, and you have five million people so. that greenbelt is something you notice and think about, maybe to improve in the future. when we come back in a couple of weeks, we'll look at the brooklyn bridge. remember, even though brooklyn was annexed, it still thought like a city. and for about a dozen or more years after the annexation until world war i, brooklyn is going to give us cultural institutions, including the brooklyn academy of music, and the brooklyn botanic gardens. all of these institutions either created or rebuilt or expand in addition major way after the annexation.
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brooklyn continues to think like a city, but after world war i, the subway came to brooklyn, the masses came to brooklyn, and brooklyn would change again. i'll see you in a couple. [applause] >> well, barry, you've done it again, and he will be coming back again again and again. we have great programs, as i mentioned in the spring. everyone, have a very happy thanksgiving. barry, have a wonderful thanksgiving, and we'll see you all again. thank you very much. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]


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