Modern Marvels: Brooklyn Bridge (1995) - DVD/Video Review for History Teachers | Student Handouts
 
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Modern Marvels: Brooklyn Bridge (1995)
United States History > Gilded Age > Gilded Age Books and Films
 
 
Modern Marvels: Brooklyn Bridge (History Channel, 1995) DVD Length: 46 minutes

Age appropriateness: History Channel's "Modern Marvels: Brooklyn Bridge" is not officially rated in the United States. It is safe viewing for all ages. This documentary is most appropriate for students in grades five and up who are learning about the industrialization of the United States at the turn of the last century.

Creators and stars: Bill Brummel, Bob Jaffe, Bruce Nash, Doug de Luca, Earl Boen, Ed Cohen, Harlan Saperstein, John Manbeck, Kristian Roebling, Phillis Cannon, Tim Busa

Accuracy: "Modern Marvels: Brooklyn Bridge" is a good documentary on the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge which opened on May 24, 1883, uniting Brooklyn and Manhattan (which would be united as Greater New York in 1898). Unlike some of the other documentary films on this subject, this video spends a lot of time illustrating the dangerous working conditions of the men who constructed this historically significant suspension bridge over the East River.

Review: "Modern Marvels: Brooklyn Bridge" is a great movie to show students as young as fifth-graders. From an educative standpoint, it hits upon the role of immigrant labor in the bridge's construction, the dangerous working conditions at the turn of the last century, the use of steel during the period of industrialization, and the history of New York City, as well as on some basic engineering and construction principles. There is even a segment on workers afflicted with the bends, a potentially fatal medical condition, the cause of which was unknown at the time.
 
 
 
 
Review and discussion questions: (1) The 1898 merger that created Greater New York united Manhattan and part of the Bronx with what Long Island city? (2) How did people travel between Manhattan and Brooklyn before the Brooklyn Bridge was built? (3) The Brooklyn Bridge traverses what river? (4) What led John Roebling to invent iron cable? (5) How and why did John Roebling die? (6) What were working conditions like for the men who excavated under the caissons? (7) How did the bends impact workers? (8) What role did Emily Roebling play in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge? (9) Describe the financial difficulties of constructing the Brooklyn Bridge. (10) Do you believe that Brooklyn and Manhattan would have united as a single city if the Brooklyn Bridge had never been built?

Vocabulary terms and names: bends, Brooklyn, caissons, cement, Chester Arthur, construction, dangerous, East River, Emily Roebling, excavation, ferry, Frank Farrington, granite, Grover Cleveland, immigrant labor, J. Lloyd Haigh, John Roebling, Manhattan, New York City, Seth Low, steel, suspension bridge, towers, Washington Roebling, William Grace
 
 
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"Modern Marvels: Brooklyn Bridge" DVD/Video Review Publication Date for Citation Purposes: July 10, 2012