Brooklyn Bridge, Electricity, Kodak No.1: The 1880s

Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest and best-known bridges in the United States of America. Completed in 1883, it spans New York City's East River to connect the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Since its opening, it has become an icon of New York City and is a big tourist attraction, having even been dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. 

The Brooklyn Bridge was designed by a German immigrant, John Augustus Roebling. He had previously designed and constructed shorter suspension bridges.

The Brooklyn Bridge was opened for use on May 24, 1883, having taken 14 years and around $15 million to complete.  The opening ceremony was attended by several thousand people and many ships were present in the East Bay for the occasion.

On the first day, a grand total of 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people crossed what was then the only land passage between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

an 1880s black-and-white photo of ships sailing under the Brooklyn Bridge

First investor-owned electric utility

Without Thomas Edison, life as we know it would be very different. Not only did he create the light bulb, he also built and opened the first power station on Manhattan Island, New York. After creating the light bulb, he soon realised that his invention would be useless without an electric power system that generated and distrusted electricity.

By 1882 (3 years after he invented the light bulb) Thomas Edison had developed the system that he set out to build. He installed the world’s first central generating plant on Pearl Street in New York City.

Soon after he introduced the central power station, Edison and others introduced appliances that made electricity more versatile and valuable.

Kodak No. 1

The Kodak Camera 1 was first introduced in 1888 and was the first “box” camera to become widely adopted by the public. It is because of this box shape that it is known as the archetype for box camera designs around the world.

Lightweight and portable due to their flexible film roll, these cameras became an instant hit with the public. This was because the camera did not require a tripod to support its weight and was therefore much easier for the operator to use than other cameras of the day. Before the introduction of the Kodak camera, photographers were responsible for making arrangements to develop and print their pictures. This was an expensive and time consuming requirement. The first Kodak camera came pre-loaded with film and customers could return the camera to Kodak in order to process their film.


a photo of a Kodak number 1


© 2018 Wilson Gunn