Thousands of people each day cross the Brooklyn Bridge , and almost all of them have no clue as to what's hidden inside the massive structure-- let alone that the bridge is full of secret passageways and forgotten rooms. Inside one of the giant stone arches below the bridge's main entrance on the Manhattan side is a hidden Cold War bomb shelter, packed to the gills with supplies in case of a nuclear attack on New York City-- but the exact location had been kept a secret for safety reaons. 


In 2006, a routine structural inspection revealed the previously-forgotten vault, which was stockpiled with Civil Defense All-Purpose Survival Crackers (yum, right?), paper blankets, water, and even medication like Dextran, which was used to treat shock (because, as you can imagine, one might be a tiny bit shocked after potentially surviving a flipping nuclear holocaust in New York City). Many of the boxes of supplies were stamped with two very telling dates-- 1957 (when the Soviets launched Sputnik) and 1962 (the Cuban Missile Crisis). The fact that the room had been there all these years, forgotten to time inside a bridge used by so many people every day in one of the biggest cities in the world is a little mind-blowing.

brooklyn bridge secrets
Photograph copyright Stanley Greenberg

Crazily enough, that bomb shelter isn't the only room inside the bridge-- on the Brooklyn side, there are 8 massive rooms (I'm talking 50 foot cathedral-style ceilings) framed by the piers that support the bridge. The cavernous area was done in a Gothic style similar to the bridge itself. This space, known as the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage, isn't open to the public anymore, but the bridge's architect, John Roebling, had originally envisioned them as being shopping arcade-type spaces. Sadly, that never panned out-- they were used for municipal storage (and the occasional art exhibition or event) until they were closed for security purposes in 2001. 


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