Inspired by a New York City Icon, This Color Palette Pairs Cool Color with Thoughtfully Measured Contrast
The first of its kind and a marvel when it was built, the Brooklyn Bridge stands as an icon in the world of architecture and design. Why are we so in awe of this predecessor of modern-day design? Perhaps because it is the oldest steel-wire suspension bridge in the world. Or perhaps because it majestically reflects our nation’s estimable power and greatness. Either way, we know it lives on as one of the most cherished suspension bridges today. From its Gothic towers with grand gateways to its sprawling steel cables, the bridge, a steadfast symbol of power and possibility, awes us. We draw inspiration from the resplendent New York landmark, yearning to mirror the historical hues and insert them into current designs we develop.
About the Brooklyn Bridge
Prior to 1883, Brooklyn and Manhattan were two separate cities, with Brooklyn operating as its own entity with little association with Manhattan. But this all changed after John Roebling was hired by the New York City Bridge Company. Roebling was contracted to help create a secure passage for those residing across the East River to commute into Manhattan. He reinvented transportation across the dangerous tidal strait, removing the necessity for congested ferries and providing unforeseen innovation.
Connecting the two cities proved beneficial to both Brooklyn and Manhattan. With Manhattan becoming increasingly dense and overcrowded and with crime skyrocketing, the bridge helped alleviate these issues, and in turn, increased property values in Brooklyn because many viewed Brooklyn as an alternative to the already overpopulated metropolis of Manhattan.
From its Gothic towers with grand gateways to its sprawling steel cables, the bridge, a steadfast symbol of power and possibility, awes us.
Throughout the years, proposals had been written for wire or chain bridges and ideas for a tunnel had even been introduced. But Roebling understood the unique need for a groundbreaking design. This task required a revolutionary approach to engineering and architectural design, and a design that would hold steady in the turbulent waters and that would offer a firm foundation in the bedrock beneath the river. By 1867, Roebling finalized his proposal for what would become what some have called the eighth wonder of the world, a shore-to-shore suspension bridge that would act as “one grand flying leap,” as David McCullough wrote in The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge. He designed the bridge to reach 270 feet at the towers, which were supported by caissons. And with a 1,600-foot span between each tower, it would be the single longest span in the world until 1903.
The real challenge came in designing towers that were solid and resilient enough to carry the four 15-inch steel cables, but also tall enough to have a high span while not obstructing river traffic. At the time, these structures literally towered over every building in city. But the highlight of Roebling’s design were his elevated boardwalks for pedestrians. These allowed the bridge to serve a dual need and provided two ingenious routes that opened up the commercial city, giving residents of Brooklyn and Manhattan a rare opportunity to travel in a leisurely fashion and be rewarded with spectacular views of the skyline.
Following 13 years of construction, Roebling’s design phenomenon was officially completed, in 1883, by his son and daughter-in-law, Washington and Emily Roebling. To test the bridge’s durability, circus promoter P.T. Barnum offered to march his troupe of 21 elephants across the bridge. In 1964, the bridge was designated a National Historic Landmark, sealing its prominence forever. The move was fitting, in light of Roebling’s remarks: “The great towers will serve as landmarks to the adjoining cities, and they will be entitled to be ranked as national monuments.” Today, the bridge remains a glorious inspiration in the world of architecture and design—just as it was upon its opening over 130 years ago.
The Colors of the Brooklyn Bridge
As we look to the carefully curated colors of Pratt & Lambert, we’ve matched a palette to the perfectly paired cool colors and the thoughtfully measured contrasts of the Brooklyn Bridge. After examining its slate-colored steel cables, its tanned-granite Gothic towers, and its tonal russet accents, we’ve collected four traditional neutral colors from the stormy grays and lighter stone shades of the Brooklyn Bridge.
In essence, the Brooklyn Bridge palette is composed of Woodwitch 32-22, a dark tonal gray that speaks to the irrepressible steel cables of Roebling’s great work of art. Coordinated with a sequence of sandy hues—including Tarragon 8-24, a light russet tone, and Windham 33-11, a serene shade of taupe—the Brooklyn Bridge’s family of granite-like colors will be a beautiful complement to any restored or contemporary space. Off White 32-31 balances out the palette as an articulate highlight.
Bring the stateliness of the Brooklyn Bridge to life with this crafted, historically inspired palette. For these are the revered classic colors that define a national treasure—and represent what is quintessentially New York.