This Image Matters: The Roebling Suspension Bridge, Cincinnati

Upon opening in 1866, the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge connecting the modest cities of Cincinnati, Ohio and Covington, Kentucky became the largest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge was a monumental achievement in engineering for its day, inspiring the design of its much-acclaimed younger brother, the Brooklyn Bridge.

Despite its groundbreaking significance, and the need for an easy flow of commerce between the two states, designers and bridge boosters faced adversity in getting their project off the ground. Skepticism stemming from the failure of smaller suspension bridges coupled with a widespread financial downturn just after construction began in 1856 to halt work completely within the first two years.

It wasn’t until the onset of the Civil War, and the very real threat of advancing Confederate troops, that the need for the bridge, as connector and mover of commerce, was universally acknowledged. Construction began anew in 1863 and, three years later, the first pedestrians walked across the completed suspension bridge, christening what would long remain a significant passage across the Ohio River. The bridge stands still.