Brooklyn Bridge Model

Suspension Bridge over the Ohio River, between Cincinnati, Ohio and Covington, Kentucky, circa 1870. Image source: RoeblingBridge1870.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain Mark 1.0.

The Covington and Cincinnati Bridge over the Ohio River, designed by John Roebling and built between 1856 and 1867, became a wonder of the 19th century world and was the prototype for Roebling’s celebrated Brooklyn Bridge.

The bridge was renamed the Roebling Suspension Bridge after designer John Roebling in 1984. At the time of its completion in 1867, its 1,057-foot span was was the longest in the world. It crosses the Ohio River between Covington, Kentucky, and Cincinnati. and remains one of the nation's foremost suspension bridges.

Cincinnati was already a major city in 1850, with a population of over 115,000. It ranked sixth in the U.S. at the time. Its neighbors of Covington and Newport had more than 20,000 residents. The ferries used to cross the river no longer could keep pace with the demand for transport. The new bridge took over a decade to complete due to prior laws restricting piers in the river, budget problems, and the Civil War. It opened in December 1866 at a cost of $1.8 million Not only was it the longest suspension bridge at the time but also the first to incorporate vertical suspenders and diagonal stays in its design.

John A. Roebling Bridge, Covington-Cincinnati, 2004, by Rick Dikeman. Image source: CovingtonKY JARoeblingBridge.jpg by RickDikeman is licensed under CC BY 3.0

The bridge charged a toll to those crossing it until the early 1960s. Original charges were 15 cents for a horse and buggy, 25 cents for three horses and a carriage, and a penny for pedestrians.

Roebling later built other suspension bridges in Pittsburgh and Niagara Falls. He died in 1869 as he was selecting a pier site for the Brooklyn Bridge.