How Many Workers Died Building the Brooklyn Bridge?

Fourteen tons of fireworks illuminated the New York night on May 24, 1883, to celebrate the completion of one of the greatest engineering feats of the Gilded Age—the Brooklyn Bridge. Billed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the longest suspension bridge ever built at the time spanned the East River to link the twin cities of New York and Brooklyn.

But, as that day’s edition of the Brooklyn Eagle pronounced, “to every human undertaking there seems of necessity to be a dark side.” In the case of the Brooklyn Bridge it was the lives lost during its 14-year construction.

At least two dozen workers, mostly immigrants, died in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. The project also took the life of the Brooklyn Bridge’s designer and left his son crippled. To learn more, click here to read this new piece I wrote for


  1. Dale Hutchinson on December 19, 2022 at 8:11 pm

    My great grandfather died during the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. His name was Robert McNeil, a migrant worker from Scotland. His family stayed in Scotland. His daughter was my great grandmother who later immigrated to New Zealand. He fell to his death after someone above him fell, landed on top of him, bringing both of them down. That’s all the information that I have, but I would be interested in knowing if there is any official record of that incident.

    • Chris Klein on December 27, 2022 at 7:25 pm

      Hi Dale, I didn’t see that name come up in any of the research I did, but not all of the information kept about the accidents in the 1880s was comprehensive, which is why there are such divergent casualty numbers. This site is a pretty comprehensive catalog of genealogical information about those killed: It might lead you to some primary sources that could be helpful.

    • eri on March 10, 2023 at 2:43 pm

      hi i feel bad for him thats seems like not a good way to go but hes defently in heven.

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