McCullough relates that “A bridge over the East River, joining the cities of New York and Brooklyn, had been talked about for nearly as long as anyone could recall . . . the idea for the bridge was exactly as old as the century, the first serious proposal having been recorded in Brooklyn in 1800.” He goes on to say that “Most appealing of all for the Brooklyn people who went to New York to earn a living every day was the prospect of a safe, reliable alternative to the East River ferries.” It is hard to imagine life in New York City without the Brooklyn Bridge.
The great poet, Walt Whitman, who lived and worked in Brooklyn part of his life and had a lifelong interest in the independent city of Brooklyn, described in his poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry what it must have been like before the building of the bridge.
Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes! how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats, the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose;
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence, are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.