Brooklyn Bridge turns 140, with a new addition open to the public

Happy 140th Birthday, Brooklyn Bridge!

Arguably one of New York's most iconic and Instagrammable locations, the Brooklyn Bridge is a well-known landmark.

The suspension bridge spans across the East River to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn Bridge was designed by John A. Roebling. Construction began in 1869 and was completed in 1883. 

"One hundred forty years ago, we opened the Brooklyn Bridge and connected two islands. This is a landmark 1883 moment for our communities, our public spaces, and our city’s recovery," said Mayor Adams on Wednesday.

The Brooklyn Bridge historical marker is seen at the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, United States, on October 24, 2022. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The mayor used the celebration to announce a series of initiatives and the opening of the new public space, "The Arches," that comes as the Department of Transportation completes its largest rehabilitation of the bridge. 

With three projects totaling $800 million, the bridge received an extensive cleaning for the first time since its original construction. 

This will ultimately transform the bridge’s granite stones from a brown color to their original 19th-century bright gray.

Bricklayers have also replaced mortar between stones, using cement sourced from the same upstate New York quarries used by members of the Roebling family for its construction. Bricklayers are currently finishing up the recreation of the original red-brick archway designs by hand, a project that is expected to finish next year.

The Arches

Public space under the Brooklyn Bridge. Wednesday, May 3, 2023. Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Eric Adams and his administration used the anniversary occasion to announce the opening of a new open space in Chinatown across from the bridge called "the Arches."

The Arches officially opened on Wednesday after the space was closed for more than a decade.

This effort is a part of Mayor Adam's commitment to the "Working People’s Agenda," a $375 million investment into public spaces in all the five boroughs.

The area includes spaces for basketball, pickleball, shuffleboard, and publicly available seating across from the 53 arches on the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge, hence the name.

The Arches will open as the Department of Transportation completes a major project to rehabilitate the Brooklyn Bridge. 

RELATED: 2 new sections of Brooklyn Bridge Park to open

A bridge to change

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NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: People march across the Brooklyn Bridge to protest against gun violence in the March for Our Lives march and rally on June 11, 2022 in New York City. Across the country in various cities, thousands are gathering to demand for meaningful gun laws following the recent shootings from Uvalde, Texas, to Buffalo, New York. The March For Our Lives movement was spurred by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018. (Photo By Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The Brooklyn Bridge has also been a place for advocacy, from gun violence, climate change, abortion, budget cuts, and more.

RELATED: Winners of competition to ‘reimagine’ Brooklyn Bridge announced

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 27: People walk across the Brooklyn Bridge during a storm on February 27, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The bridge is also a major destination for tourists, locals, and love birds alike. 

The bridge has become a must-see for lovebirds to write messages on padlocks and attach them to the bridge as a symbol of "unbreakable love."

Unfortunately the city has cracked down on the love locks, saying that the removal of the locks was costing tons of money.

The padlocks can cause damage and pose safety hazards to motorists driving below, according to DOT.

Police can fine up to $100 per offense.

"We encourage romantics to continue to express their love but avoid the heartache of a summons," NYPD Transportation Bureau Chief Thomas Chan said.

No Locks sign is seen on the pedestrian walkway at Brooklyn Bridge in New York, United States, on October 24, 2022. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

RELATED: Brooklyn, Queensboro bridges to add bicycle-only lanes

Through the state's "Downtown Revitalizing Initiative", the Adams administration says they plan to work with the community to upgrade and expand more public spaces in the area.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that the Brooklyn Bridge is not the longest suspension bridge in the world, but that it was the longest at the time of completion.