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Brooklyn Bridge, Fanfare and Fatalities: Topics in Chronicling America

In 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge opens as the longest suspension bridge in the world. This guide provides access to material related to the “Brooklyn Bridge” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Brooklyn Bridge From the Docks." October 31, 1920. New-York Tribune (New York, NY), Page 12, Image 84. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

The Brooklyn Bridge opens as the longest suspension bridge in the world on May 24, 1883. Spanning across the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. The excitement and celebration of the opening are soon tainted by a stampede, caused by panic after a late afternoon accident on the bridge, on May 30, 1883. Although other accidents and events on the bridge make headlines for years to come, the bridge still stands and is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


May 24, 1883 The Brooklyn Bridge is opened to the public with great fanfare; it is the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of completion.
May 30, 1883 12 people die and 36 are seriously injured on the Brooklyn Bridge in a stampede caused by unnecessary panic after a woman trips.
May 19, 1885 Robert E. Odlum is the first person to commit suicide jumping from the bridge.
July 23, 1886 Steve Brodie claims to have survived a jump off the bridge.
October 31, 1920 Bridge is declared safe.