The man who sold the Brooklyn Bridge, the greatest conman in America

George C Parker is the man who sold the Brooklyn Bridge twice in a week, You don’t believe us? Maybe you would after you find out that…

man who sold the brooklyn bridge
The man who sold the Brooklyn Bridge

Who was the man who sold the Brooklyn Bridge?

The Brooklyn Bridge, Madison Square Garden, and the Statue of Liberty were just some famous landmarks where George C. Parker managed to scam money out of unsuspecting buyers. It is a fact, that he sold the Brooklyn Bridge at least twice a week, once for as much as $50,000. Toll booths in the center of the bridge were a common occurrence that the police had to intervene to prevent.

The saying “If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell to you” was coined by New Yorker George C. Parker (1860-1936), the man who sold the Brooklyn Bridge. To back up his frauds, he would create false sales offices and counterfeit paperwork. Ellis Island, where some immigrants arrived with money to invest in new businesses, was one of his favourite spots to identify rubes or victims. Another common prey was visitors from out of town who was seeing New York for the first time.

The sale of the Brooklyn Bridge was his biggest scam. A rumor circulated that he sold it twice weekly. It was sold many times, with the highest price being $50k. When New York police officers intervened to prevent the “new owners” from installing toll booths in the bridge’s center, the new owner learned he had been duped.

Does this story of the man who sold the Brooklyn Bridge sound unreal? Then meet Victor Lusting, a man who sold the Eiffel Tower twice, but nothing can beat the man who sold the Taj Mahal and the Indian Parliament with sitting representatives

Why would someone buy the Brooklyn Bridge?

When the Brooklyn Bridge was opened to the public in 1883, people had to pay a cent to cross. Every morning, tens of thousands of people used the bridge to get from Brooklyn to Manhattan. It used to cost one penny for pedestrians, five cents for a horse and rider, and ten cents for a horse and wagon to cross the Brooklyn Bridge when it originally opened. There was a two-cent fee for sheep and hogs and a five-cent fee for cows.

man who sold the brooklyn bridge

The pedestrian toll was finally abolished in 1891, after years of lobbying by local organizations and commuters. On July 19, 1911, New York City Mayor William J. Gaynor backed the removal of highway fees, saying, “I see no more justification for toll gates on the bridges than for toll gates on Fifth Avenue or Broadway.” A quarter of a million people crossed the bridge on Columbus Day, 1892, in honor of the quadricentennial of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas.

George Parker, the man who sold the Brooklyn Bridge was once called “the greatest con man,” but he was always getting busted. After being convicted of fraud a third time in 1928, Judge Alonzo G. McLaughlin in Brooklyn sent him to Sing Sing Prison, where he later died.

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