Structural Engineering Designs in New York
From gorgeous Gothic Cathedrals and infamous bridges, to magnificent structures that have homed some of the biggest celebrities of all time; New York is filled with structural engineering designs that will absolutely blow your mind! Today we’re going to explore a handful of these stunning structures. Let’s take a closer look at the finer details of these historic beauties. Ready for another exciting virtual tour? Off we go!
1. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
First stop, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan! St. Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in the country! Standing beautifully at 5th Ave, New York, NY; this dream-like cathedral is the type of place I thought only existed in movie scenes that featured glorious weddings. The exterior of the building alone is breathtaking! Recognized as a Neo-Gothic structure, the aesthetic delivers a mix of German, French, and English gothic influences. The project for this cathedral was started all the way back in 1858! Ultimately, construction took twenty years to become what we see today. The architect was James Renwick, Jr.; One of the most successful and versatile American architects of the second half of the 19th century.
From Windows to Weddings!
A majority of the cathedral is marble! In addition, the cathedral features massive bronze doors, gorgeous alters, and more than 4,000 stunning stained glass windows; a true treat for the eyes!
From a historical stand-point, the cathedral is the final resting place of some of New York’s most legendary humanitarians, as well as clergymen. In addition, it is also the location of a Baldwin wedding. In 2012 Alec Baldwin tied the knot at the cathedral to his yoga-instructor finance, Hilaria Thomas.
What I personally found as exciting, is that St. Patrick’s Cathedral is actually the church being referred to in the 1960’s hit song, California Dreamin’; made famous by, The Mamas & The Papas! When the lyrics sang, are: “Stopped in to a church I passed along the way- Well I got down on my knees and I pretend to pray…”; they were actually singing about St. Patrick! How cool is that?!
All in all, between the incredible intricate workmanship and exciting history; St. Patrick’s Cathedral has made our list of must-see structural engineering designs in NY!
2. The Brooklyn Bridge
To continue on our journey, we’ll travel to one of the most iconic structures in New York; The Brooklyn Bridge. With is construction finally complete in 1883, Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the country, and is in-fact the first to be made using steel wire! From 1883-1903 Brooklyn Bridge was considered the longest suspension bridge in the world; with an overall length of 1,825m (5,989 ft) and with a main span of 486m (1,595 ft).This epic structure is actually SO iconic, that it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964!
Passing of Batons
Construction of the bridge began back in 1870, taking 13 total years to complete. What is most unfortunate yet bittersweet about the Brooklyn Bridge, is that it was John Roebling who began the project, but his son, Washington Roebling who would complete it. Sadly, right before construction began on the bridge, John Roebling suffered a serious foot-injury. As a result, he contracted tetanus and passed away before building began. Coincidentally, Washington also suffered a paralyzing injury shortly after construction begun. Following this, Emily Roebling, Washington’s wife that stepped in to the rescue, and assisted with the completion of the bridge. (We know how I love a good female-empowerment story! 😉 )
High Price, High Traffic, High Winds
The Brooklyn Bridge finally opened on 23rd May 1883, when 1,800 vehicles would cross for the first time. The project ended up having cost $15.1 million. To elaborate, this was DOUBLE the original estimate! More recently, its been estimated that an average of over 116,000 vehicles, 30,000 pedestrians and 3,000 cyclists travel over the iconic bridge daily.
Walking over the bridge is an experience in itself. It’s as if you can feel this history throughout its beams, along with PLENTY of wind.
3. The Statue of Liberty
While on the topic of iconic landmarks, we shall highlight another famous notable must-see for structural engineering designs: The Statue of Liberty! Let’s take it back to history class for a brief brush-up. In efforts to honor the ground-breaking strides and work of late President, Abraham Lincoln, Edouard de Laboulaye proposed that a gift be given, in the form of a monument, from France to America. The monument would commemorate the perseverance of freedom in the United States. In addition, it would honor the alliance between the United States with France during the American Revolution. It was also Laboulaye’s way at inspiring hope to the French people to create their own democracy in the face of a repressive monarchy, by shining a light on the United States’ success. In either case, it was prominent French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi, Laboulaye would select to sculpt the soon-to-be historic monument.
Liberty Enlightening the World
In 1871, this dream soon became a reality! Both Laboulaye and Bartholdi were in agreement that they wanted the monument to inspire peaceful change, lawfully lighting the way, opposed to triggering a uprising. They tried to clarify their intention with the name they gave they statue; “Liberty Enlightening the World“.
Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, whom also designed the Eiffel Tower was assigned with the design of the internal metallic structure. He then in turn, entrusted the work to the chief structural engineer, Maurice Koechlin. The beautiful statue lacks in neither beauty nor size. Lady Liberty stands proud at over 151 feet tall! And on her base? Even taller; at a whopping 305 feet tall! The structure weighs an enormous total of 450,000 pounds, including 27 tons of copper and 113 tons of steel!
Assembly – Disassembly – Assembly
Auguste Bartholdi originally prefabricated the figure in Paris. He did this by molding sheets of copper over a stainless-steel framework. Upon completion, the structure was then disassembled in order to transfer it to its final destination. Next, The Statue of Liberty was shipped to the United States in 241 different crates! Finally, after arriving to New York, on June 19, 1885, the statue would be put back together. All in all; it took four months to be reassembled and rebuilt into the stunning structure that stands today. Not only is The Statue of Liberty on our list of stunning structural engineering designs, but it is a historic must-see!
Image by Thought&Co
4. The Dakota
For our last stop of the day, we’re going to explore one of the most incredible structures in all of Manhattan: The Dakota! Aside from its breathtaking appearance, The Dakota is possibly most well-known for the world-renowned celebrities who have called it home-sweet-home. With its prime location, overlooking Central Park, at 1 West 72nd Street, it’s no surprise The Dakota is a highly-desired luxury apartment, and actually New York’s first!
During the construction of The Dakota, a majority of upper Manhattan was still farmland! At the same time, The Brooklyn Bridge and The Statue of Liberty were also being built in lower Manhattan. So, The Dakota’s extreme West location in comparison, is what actually inspired the name of the building. Yet since its doors opened in 1884, it has been a magnet for the rich and famous. Some of the most notable celebrities that have lived at The Dakota include: Judy Garland, Lauren Bacall, Leonard Bernstein, Rosemary Clooney, and of course, John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
From the decorative finished and gothic gables, to the stand-out gated entryway, and stunning interior and exterior courtyard, there are not many buildings in Manhattan that can compare to The Dakota. Probably why, from 1884 to 1929 the building had exactly ZERO vacancies throughout the entire 45-year span! The Dakota’s remarkable design was done by architect Henry J. Hardenbergh, who also created the Plaza Hotel. Its Renaissance-Revival architect style will stop you in your tracks upon its sight.
The hotel’s structural design was also inspired by The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, that forever changed building design in the United States. Due to this, The Dakota was built equipped with fireproof materials. According to Landmarks Preservation Commission Designation Report:
“With its massive load bearing walls, heavy interior partitions, and double thick floors of concrete, it is one of the quietest buildings in the City.” —National Register of Historic Places Inventory
Thanks to its intricate design, incredible Central Park views, and a renowned list of present and previous occupants, The Dakota provides iconic New York City living, filled with famous history since its opening.
Can’t Mention The Dakota Without Love For Mr. Lennon
Yoko Ono still to this day holds residence at The Dakota; which is conveniently located across the portion of Central Park which has been designated for a 2.5-acre landscaped section; “Strawberry Fields”. Strawberry Fields is a memorial to beloved Beatles member, brilliant musician, peace activist, and her late husband: John Lennon. It is also the location of the “IMAGINE” mosaic which is a highly desired tourist stop, especially for Beatles fans! On the opposite side of the spectrum, The Dakota is also known for quite the morbid ties to Mr. John Lennon. It was also the unfortunate location of his senseless murder, and heartbreaking death that devastated the world on December 8, 1980. Along with the memory of Mr. Lennon’s legacy, the ties between The Dakota and John seem to live on forever.
Now that we’ve explored a gothic-inspired cathedral, walked across a historic bridge, reassembled a legendary landmark, and visited the celeb-magnet known as The Dakota- which was your favorite?! Today we’ve just scratched the surface of the structural engineering designs that are a must-see in New York. But if you are trying to narrow down the dozens of New York sights you’re unwilling to miss, I highly recommend adding these to the top of list! Until next time friends! See you soon!
©️ 2022 Eastern Engineering Group wrote and published this article. All rights reserved.