Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Great Bridge

I think bridges are amazing.

The Golden Gate Bridge is my favorite part of San Francisco (wrote about that back HERE), and how amazingly gothic and gorgeous is the Brooklyn Bridge??
I have always loved that one too.  
(That picture was taken as we walked across it late one night on our last visit to NYC and my heart was exploding with love for that thing...more about that back HERE...that was when they had that cool Tom Fruin glass house displayed close to it.)

So why do I bring this up?  Well, last night we had book club about this beauty:
 Let's get a look at the side of that sucker, because it has some heft I tell you!
I part listened, part read that puppy, because it is detailed!  And sometimes listening helps me grasp the big picture better with all the technical parts, but either way, to me it was pretty fascinating.

I love things like that that take you deep into history.

The story of a need for a bridge to connect Brooklyn with New York.  Thinking of the city skyline and how those towers were by far the tallest things in New York back then.  For forward thinking of the engineers and the breadth of knowledge it took to figure out how to build.

I thought the story of William "Boss" Tweed was fascinating, and the corruption that surrounded him that was such an integral part of the history of New York...his daughter's opulent wedding, how he was involved in the bridge.

The character of John A. Roebling...made me realize it takes some pretty eccentric people to pull off the impossible sometimes...his horrific death, how his son Washington stepped up to the plate to take over at such a young age.

I loved reading about Emily Roebling and her strength as a woman in those early American days and the relationship between she and her husband.

But most of all it gave me such a deeper appreciation for that bridge!
 The ingenuity of that whole thing is really astounding.
So interesting to figure out how they determined how to construct that bridge clear back in 1869, before cars were even a part of our world.
The work it took to build these colossal caissons for the foundations under the towers:
...the complicated system of how men got in and out to help sink and painstakingly bury them solidly in the river.

The deaths, the doctors trying to figure out what would eventually be discovered as the bends, the health issues Washington Roebling dealt with, how his wife cared for him and took over when needed, the political climate throughout those fourteen years...I could go on and on.  Lots of interesting things in that book.

I was also so impressed with how David McCullough put it together.  One paragraph in the preface really pulled me in when he talked about how he wanted to write about the bridge and found that there was a collection of Roebling papers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Roebling's alma mater).  And this is how he found the papers:

"What we saw when we unlocked the door was a big closet jam-packed from floor to ceiling with stacks of old papers, letters, photographs, scrapbooks, and every kind of memorabilia...the effect at the time was overwhelming, like finding the proverbial trunk full of treasure in the attic, only far greater."  In another closet he found the original bridge drawings "strewn on the tloff like rolls of old wallpaper."  

I was so impressed by the work McCullough delved into to sort out all the facts and details to put together that chunk of early U.S. history.

It was a good book.  More about it over HERE.

Now on to Boys in the Boat for next month...

8 comments:

  1. As a native Seattleite, my husband read Boys in the Boat and shared some of it with me. We both found it fascinating and riveting. Their story blows me away. I'm so excited for you to read it and for me to read your thoughts on it!!!

    Maybe I'll give Great Bridge a read too!

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  2. Oh Shawnie - you will LOVE LOVE LOVE Boys in the Boat. One of my all time favorite books !

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  3. Sounds like a great read! Boys in the Boat is a fantastic book!

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  4. Sounds like an interesting read. One of our favorite things to do is walk across the Roebling Bridge here in Cincinnati. It was built by Roebling before the Brooklyn Bridge and has some very similar characteristics. It's the best way to cross the Ohio River...in just a few minutes you've gone from Kentucky to Ohio!

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  5. I'm buying this book right now! And you will LOVE Boys in the Boat...so inspirational and full of lessons for life!

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  6. The audio reading of Boys in the Boat was fantastic, too!

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  7. The Great Bridge is one of my all time favorite books - but it is very long and detailed, and not for everyone. Then I went to NYC and walked the bridge, and read the plaque on one end, and recognized every single name on the plaque. I also loved the Path between the Seas, and Nothing Like it in the world.

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  8. Just curious if you've ever read "Cheaper By the Dozen" or "Bells on Their Toes?" These books just speak to my heart because it is all about a family doing and learning wonderful things together--deliberately. The books are nothing like the movies--at least the newer ones. Don't you just love books? :D--M

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