Souvenir of the Opening of the East River Bridge, May 24, 1883

Grade Range: 5-12
Resource Type(s): Artifacts, Primary Sources
Date Posted: 6/10/2009

By the late 19th century, the United States had established itself as a world leader in the area of civil engineering. Perhaps no project better symbolized America's technical prowess than the awe-inspiring Brooklyn Bridge, which connected the nation's largest and third largest cities—New York and Brooklyn, respectively—in 1883 across the turbulent tidal strait known as the East River. The main 1,600-foot (490-meter) span of this towering suspension bridge exceeded the world's longest span by fifty percent.

The bridge's opening prompted a huge celebration. This white metal medallion was struck to commemorate that occasion. Its obverse proudly proclaims the motto, "Two Cities As One," while the legend on its reverse reads: "Souvenir of the Opening of the East River Bridge, May 24th 1883."

Use this Investigation Sheet to guide students through describing the object and analyzing its meaning.