It’s May 24, 1883, and a joyous crowd is gathering for a momentous occasion: the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge. At last New York and Brooklyn, separate cities at the time, will have a physical link across the East River. A band plays, fireworks pop and ships fire off cannons – but this gleeful celebration ignores some grim truths about the bridge’s construction.

The building of the Brooklyn Bridge had pushed the technologies of the day to their limits. But this had meant that there had been considerable danger for the workers who toiled to erect this monumental structure. Sadly, tragedy had been a constant companion during the 13 years it took to build the bridge.

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