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From “Victorian Inventions” by Leonard De Vries published by American Heritage Press in 1972


While plans have now been divulged to connect the island of Manhattan in New York with Brooklyn by means of a giant suspension bridge over the East River, Mr J. W. Morse has devised a bridge which permits of a much lighter construction than a normal suspension bridge and is, consequently, much cheaper to build. Mr Morse’s project provides for transportation across the river in a giant platform, suspended by means of cables from a trolley running upon a gantry across the river. Measuring 40 X 100 feet, the platform, or traveller as it is sometimes called, has two storeys: the top floor is for pedestrians while the bottom deck is intended for horses and carriages. The car can accommodate no fewer than 5,000 passengers at each trip and it hangs at the level of the access roads, but the supporting gantry is at a sufficiently high level above the river (136 feet) to give clear passage for shipping. The traveller takes only two minutes to cross the stream, and if necessary the crossing can be made in one minute. In the course of twelve hours, 75,000 people as well as nearly 6,000 wagons and horses can be carried across.

While a normal suspension bridge requires extensive abutments and ramps to enable the road traffic to reach the bridge-deck level of almost 120 feet, Mr Morse’s transporter bridge obviates the need for such provisions. The fact that the traveller hangs only 3 feet above the water-and hence is almost at street-level-makes it easy for heavily loaded wagons to cross the river, and will also be appreciated by the workman returning home on foot after a hard day’s toil in the factory or warehouse.

Would have been interesting to see how it would have handled todays traffic if it had been built – Ted

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