World's Most Interesting Bridges

The Weird and Wonderful World of Bridges, Part 1

The bridges we chose for this page may not be the most obvious candidates for the World's Most Amazing Bridges, like San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge, Rialto bridge in Venice, Vancouver's Lion's Gate bridge, or Millau bridge in France. This is, however, an interesting list, which also promises to be a start of a new series


Rialto Bridge in Venice, photo by Avi Abrams

The history of bridges would be a boring one, if I was to lay it out for you. I can imagine the story going something like this;

"It was the year 3308. Of course, they didn’t call it that back then, it was just "3 years after our Ahab was born!" A village had realized that, the grass was indeed greener on the other side. However the other side in this case just happened to be split by a river. They were baffled; "How can we get over there?" one asked. Weeks of thought later and finally a young man who had decided to leave his elders to their thoughts went down to the lake to test out a theory. Taking his axe with him he felled a tree, and let it fall directly across the river. He walked across, and back again, firm in the knowledge that his village’s future was secure."


Two bridges in the Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, photos via 1, 2

It’s not the world’s most thrilling tale of beginnings, nothing like what I’m sure the tale belonging to the theft of fire would be like. But since I’ve been able to successfully entertain you safely past the beginning of this article, I will endeavor to hold your attention by showing you through some of the most interesting bridges that have come across my monitor. And no, they won’t all be the heights of technological engineering, but simply those that have captured the imagination in various ways throughout time.


San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge, photo by Don & Elaine


"Stari Most" (Old Bridge) - Fascinating History

The first bridge on my list is a biased choice, and may not have originally made anyone else’s list of favored bridges. However with my mother a missionary in the area of Mostar, Bosnia, I had to pick this bridge for its meaning to me. However the bridge itself has a whole host of its own history.





Destroyed by Herzegovinian Croat Catholic militia during the War in Bosnia-Herzegovina, on November 9, 1993 at 10.15 am, the bridge spans the Neretva River in the old town of Mostar. Stari Most thus provided the fourth largest city in the country with its name.



Star Most is a hump—backed bridge, 4 meters in width and 30 in length, and towers above the river at a height of 24 meters at its highest point. The Helebija tower on the northeast and the Tara tower on the southwest are known as the mostari, or "the bridge keepers".



Stari Most was commissioned by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1557 to replace an older wooden suspension bridge. Construction began in 1557 and took nine years to complete and, according to the inscription the bridge, was completed in 974 AH, which corresponds to the period between July 19, 1566 and July 7, 1567.



And, if you’re interested, the bridge often entertains young men willing to dive in to the chilly water below. An interesting native practice that dates back to the origin of the bridge itself.

Getting ready to dive:



Still alive!


(images credit: Joy Hill)


Gateshead Millennium Bridge

Spanning the River Tyne in England between Gateshead on the south bank and Newcastle-upon-Tyne on the north, the next bridge in our journey was another of the projects commissioned for the turn of the Millennium. It is a pedestrian and cycle bridge, instead of a stereotypical automobile bridge, and its design provided designers Wilkinson Eyre (a high-profile architecture firm) with the 2002 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize.



(images credit: Fr.structurae.de)

What’s special about this bridge is its ability to allow boats and other water traffic to move underneath it, despite being relatively low to the surface of the river. Mini hydraulic rams on each side of the bridge tilt it back on special pivots, lifting the bridge out of the way of those attempting to go underneath. This move has lent the bridge a new nickname, the Blinking Eye Bridge.



This is how this bridge was put in place: manufactured a few miles down the river and transported upriver by the "Asian Hercules" (Rotterdam) floating crane:



(images credit: Longsands)

This is the only bridge that "loves you" back :)




The Longest Arch Bridge - Lupu Bridge

The Lupu Bridge is currently the longest arch bridge in the world, stretching a massive 550 meters across the Huangpu River, China. Along with being a record holder ("The bridge's arch is longer than the previous record holder, the 518-metre long New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia"), the bridge is also the center point for a lot of local hostility.



(images credit: cssc.net.cn)

The need for a bridging between the Luwan District on the north bank, and Pudong New District on the south bank was agreed by all, but that was where the agreement stopped. The exorbitant cost of the Lupu Bridge was frowned upon by locals and scholars, but chosen by the disgraced mayor Chen Liangyu as it would set the area apart with a world record bridge. The critics use this bridge as an argument to prove the city officials superficiality, when weighed against the needs of its people.

Construction of the Lupu Bridge:



(image credit: Leica Geosystems)

Another shot of Chinese breathtaking bridge construction: this time showing suspension bridge over Jiangyin Yangtze River - cable construction with preformed parallel wire strands (PPWS) technique:


(images credit: ChinaPage)

Hangzhou Bay Bridge, China

This bridge, recently completed, is the world’s longest trans-oceanic bridge, stretching across Hangzhou Bay off the eastern coast of China. Connecting the municipalities of Shanghai and Ningbo in Zhejiang province, it was linked at 3pm on June the 14th, 2007.



Measuring in at 36 kilometers long, and with six expressway lanes makes it the second longest bridge in the world, with only the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana, USA beating it out.



Another of the bridges that seem to be a wasteful choice of bridge, it seems as though the Chinese government are making great architectural decisions, but are failing to consider what their people actually want. Nevertheless, designed to last 100 years, the Hangzhou Bay Bridge will be open to the public some time in 2008.


Great Belt Fixed Link

The last on my list of bridges, this bridge is the fixed link between the Danish islands of Zealand and Funen across the Great Belt. It consists of a suspension bridge that makes up the road on top, as well as a box girder bridge between Sprogø and Funen. Between Zealand and the islet Sprogø there is also a railway tunnel that runs beneath the road.


(image via)

Made up of two bridges the Eastern suspension bridge is 6,790 metres (22,277 ft) long with a free span of 1,624 metres (5,328 ft), making it the world’s second largest suspension bridge. The Western box girder bridge is 6,611 metres (21,690 ft) long, and has a vertical clearance for ships of 18 metres (59 ft). The Western Bridge is essentially two bridges though, with the rail component making up one bridge, and the road component the other. The only factor keeping them as “one” is the fact that their foundations are the same below the sea level.



More fun with bridges:

Fascinating Abandoned (Ruined) Bridge

Kinzua Viaduct in McKean County, Pennsylvania:



(images credit: venangoil)

Once the world's highest and longest rail viaduct bridge (the center towers were about 300 feet tall when standing) was toppled by extremely strong winds - a possible tornado - in 2003... The ruins tell the story: (see more pics here)



Also read up on the history of this once-imposing structure here


Bridges as Art

Check out this is absolutely absurd, creative installation in the heart of Russia: "The Half-Bridge of Hope" - more pictures and info here.




(images via)


"The Most Unusual Photograph of a Bridge Award"

This honor goes to Carl Madson, for this angle of Golden Gate bridge:


(image credit: Carl Madson)

Mystery Bridge

See if you can identify this structure:



UPDATE:

Nicholas says:
"The last bridge is the "Pont de Normandie" in France (link). That was an easy one. Well OK I am French and used to drive through this bridge on a regular basis a few years ago"

Article by Joshua S. Hill, My Writing Voice for Dark Roasted Blend, and A. Abrams.

CONTINUE TO NEXT PART! ->

The whole BRIDGES series: Part 2, Part 3
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