Bite-Sized History: Emily Warren Roebling

Illustration by Elizabeth Baddely

Illustration by Elizabeth Baddely

 

Tonight I was reading from my previously mentioned copy of The Who, The What, and The When, a collection of short bios and illustrations of “secret sidekicks” in history. A taste: Emily Warren Roebling.

Had you heard of her? I hadn’t.

WELL, Emily Warren Roebling was wife to Washington Roebling, chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge. In 1872, her husband contracted cassion disease, decompression sickness, and Warren Roebling stepped in to act on his behalf. Forced to quickly learn the mechanics and physics required by bridgework, she would remain in this position for the next eleven years.

When the bridge was completed, she the first person to cross the bridge, rooster in her arms as a symbol of victory.

At the dedication ceremony, the bridge was called, “an everlasting monument to the self-sacrificing devotion of a woman and of her capacity for that higher education from which she has been too long disbarred.” That about says it all.

Now, time to find a rooster….

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