5. It Was Designed To Be More Useful Than Beautiful
The Williamsburg Bridge is widely regarded as one of the city’s ugliest bridges. In 1903, Scientific American reported that it was “destined to be more popular on account of its size and usefulness than its graceful lines.” In fact, Supported by steel towers instead of the beautiful neo-gothic stone stone towers like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Williamsburg, though it looks more unattractive, took half the time build (7 years as opposed to 13 years for the Brooklyn Bridge).
Despite the fact that the bridge may look more unattractive, the chief engineer, Leffert Lefferts Buck, used steel instead of stone because it was stronger and much lighter.It also proved very sturdy after a fire broke out on it in November 1902. The bridge survived with minimal damage, reinforcing the strength of this new architectural practice. Besides being sturdy at the time, the steel towers were basically the only structures that could support the incredible weight of the railways and roads.
Leffert Buck was said to be inspired by Gustav Eiffel’s Eiffel Tower in his design of the Williamsburg. Buck also perviously worked with Mr. Eiffel which could also account for the similarities. It should be noted that the Eiffel Tower was initially not well received either upon being built. As Scientific American put it, “Considered from aesthetic standpoint, the (Williamsburg) Bridge will always suffer by comparison to its neighbor, the Brooklyn Bridge.”
Fun fact: Leffert Buck went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with Washington Roebling, one of the architects of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.