Historic, but not famous

William C. Kingsley, Brooklyn Bridge contractor

William C. Kingsley (1833–1885) was a construction contractor as one of the main figures involved in the creation of the Brooklyn Bridge. Kingsley settled in Brooklyn in 1856 and worked as a contractor for the Brooklyn water works. His construction firm, Kingsley and Keeney, was given large contracts to build Prospect Park and the Hempstead Reservoir. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the largest and most important projects he worked on.

He became the driving force behind the Bridge project, hiring Colonel Julius Walker Adams, a civil engineer who had worked with him on the Brooklyn sewers, to come up with a design and to prepare cost estimates. Neither man was experienced in bridge building and their proposal for the bridge was a very low $5 million bid. This bid allowed the bridge to get political buy in and Kingsley became a major shareholder in the bridge company organized in 1867. The bridge was eventually built by John and Washington and Emily Roebling for three times that amount.

In 1875, Kingsley joined the board of trustees of the Brooklyn Bridge, and became the second president of the board in 1882, upon the first board president’s death. Kingsley held that position on May 24, 1883, the day that the Brooklyn Bridge opened.

Kingsley is interred at Green-Wood Cemetery. His monument was cut from granite stone that was once a part of the Brooklyn Bridge.


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