Stampede on the Brooklyn Bridge
May 30, 1883 - This was the first week that the Brooklyn Bridge was opened for foot traffic. New Yorkers were thrilled to finally walk across the structure, as they had watched its slow construction for 13 long years.
As pedestrians milled about on the bridge, someone started a rumor that a collapse was imminent. The crowd flew into a panic and 12 people were crushed to death in the frantic exodus.
After the tragedy, fears about the safety of the bridge persisted until almost a year later when P.T. Barnum staged a publicity stunt to promote his circus. His star elephant, Jumbo, walked across the bridge, followed by 20 other elephants.