One year after it was opened, the Brooklyn Bridge was still a topic of skepticism for New Yorkers—many still believed that it would crumble into the East River under the weight of commuters.
In 1884, P.T. Barnum organized a publicity stunt to show off the structural integrity of the bridge. With much spectacle, he held a procession of elephants and other circus animals across the bridge. Below is an exerpt from the following day’s New York Times.
“At the order of the Superintendent of Tolls no fare was collected… The question of how much an elephant of a dromedary should pay stumped the Superintendent, and until his has solved the problem Barnum will enjoy the use of his money…”