TIMELINE: The Roebling Suspension Bridge - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

TIMELINE: The Roebling Suspension Bridge

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The John A. Roebling Bridge, Cincinnati’s first permanent bridge across the Ohio River, opened in 1866. The John A. Roebling Bridge, Cincinnati’s first permanent bridge across the Ohio River, opened in 1866.
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

From its decorative lights, stone towers and huge cables spanning the Ohio River, the Roebling Suspension Bridge is uniquely Cincinnati.

Before 1866, crossing the Ohio River for Cincinnatians meant taking a boat or ferry. As the economic necessity for a bridge linking Ohio and Kentucky grew, so did the technology that allowed building large spans.

The Roebling Suspension Bridge is a celebration of art, architecture, history and engineering but the idea of the original centerpiece was hard for builder John Roebling to pass along to area politicians and the public.

"There were people that thought the bridge would cause flooding," said Patricia Van Skaik of the Hamilton County Public Library. "A bridge this size had never been built before so there was a lot of misinformation out there."

After almost a decade of controversy, a lack of money and stalled construction, the Roebling Suspension Bridge finally opened in 1866 to great fanfare.

"Over 160 thousand people crossed the bridge...pedestrians...in just the first two days and then when it opened to vehicles...something funny to think about is that the vehicles were horses and buggies."

Library historians dug deep into their extensive archives to provide our Facebook fans, like you, detailed photos and background information as part of our FOX19 Facebook Timeline.

"We not only have online resources, but we have physical resources here at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County...documents show the beginning of the Roebling Suspension Bridge."

Until the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Roebling Suspension bridge was the longest in the world and was the prototype for bridges to come. The Roebling was also originally painted reddish-brown and then repainted a vibrant blue to appear patriotic.

The decorative lights that we all love today were added along the main cables in 1984 and the tower's domed steel caps were fixtures since 1896. The original turrets came back in the early 1990's.

The distinctive "humming" sound as you drive across the bridge comes from the tires against the metal bridge deck.

"This is the only one of his suspension bridges that is standing today...it really is a major landmark and treasure."

We can all agree that the Roebling Suspension Bridge is a Tri-state staple that has been going strong for almost 150 years.

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