They are magnificent structures that are crossed everyday by thousands of pedestrians and vehicular traffic. These structures can be view as symbols and can cost million of dollars to complete. If you have not guessed by now, we are of course talking about bridges. Here are just a few hand-picked bridges you should know about.
The Brooklyn Bridge ( NYC)
This is one of the most recognized manmade structures in the world. The Span is crossed everyday by thousand of commuters, tourists, and vehicular traffic. When it was completed in 1883 it connected the great boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Constructing this marvel took fourteen years, it involved six hundred workers, and cost fifteen million dollars (about three hundred and eighty million bucks in today’s economy). With a span of 1,595.5 feet, it was very the first steel wired suspension bridge in the United States.
The original designer of this structure was a German immigrant named John Augustus Roebling. During construction of the project Roebling was severely injured and placed his son, Washington Roebling in charge before his death. Shortly after being placed in control, Washington became ill and was unable to supervise the project in person, however he controlled the entire construction from his apartment. His wife, Emily Warren Roebling, became a critical link between Washington and the workers on site.
On opening day Emily was the first to cross the structure, by the end of the day 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people went across the bridge. Six days after the grand opening a stampede occurred on the walkway after rumors started that the structure was going to collapse, as a result at least twelve people died after being crushed. One Year later to defy all rumors P.T. Barnum (famous circus creator) marched 21 elephants across the structure to prove the stability while also promoting his circus.
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (New York City)
Connecting the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn, this double-decked bridge was completed in 1964. The structure does not contain any pedestrian walkways but carries twelve lanes of motor traffic, each deck has six lanes. The structure has a span of 4,259 feet and was considered the longest suspension bridge anywhere in the world until it was passed by the Humber Bridge which is located in the United Kingdom. Although it is not the longest in the world anymore, it is still the considered the longest suspension bridge in the United States. Its massive support towers is visible from so many locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, and New Jersey.
The bridge is considered the gate way to New York Harbor and gets its name from the explorer Giovanni da Verrazano. He was the first European to enter New York Harbor and the Hudson river through the area where the structure now spans.
Construction started on the bridge in 1959, the upper deck opened five years later (1964), and the lower roadway was opened five years after that (1969). The structure cost around $320 million dollars to complete. Due to the size and location over isolated ocean water, the bridge is consistently affected by weather and can be closed during high winds and snow storms.
Humber Bridge (England)
Officially opened by Elizabeth II on July 17, 1981, this structure has a span of 4,625 feet and carries an average of 120,00 vehicle per week. The bridge connects the East Riding of Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire in England.
The Structure can withstand up to 80 mph winds and can sway and bend close to ten feet in these high winds. The lower deck of the bridge contains pedestrian walkways and bike lanes. These walkways and bike lanes allow the bridge to remain one of the longest that can be crossed by foot.
Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco, CA)
Between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay is the Golden Gate strait. In 1937 the Golden Gate Bridge was completed and stretched over this three mile long channel. The bridge has a span of 4,200 feet and was considered the longest suspension bridge until 1964 when the Verrazano was opened.
Due to harsh conditions on the strait such as swirling tides and strong winds, many experts claimed that a bridge could never be built in this area. They feared that fog and high winds would greatly affect the construction.
Construction on the structure lasted four years and cost more than $35 million dollars. Amazingly the bridge was finished ahead of schedule and was under $1.3 million dollars under budget. The project was spared headed by an ambitious engineer named Joseph Strauss. However due to Strauss’ inexperience with cable-suspension designs, responsibility for much of the architecture and engineering went to other experts.
The opening ceremonies began on May 27, 1937 and lasted for a week. Before cars were allowed to cross the structure, 200,000 pedestrians crossed on foot and roller skates. The day after, President Roosevelt pushed a ceremonial button in Washington D.C. officially allowing motorized vehicles to begin crossing the bridge.
The Golden Gate Bridge follows a close second behind the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge in terms of the most used suicide area in the world. By the year 2012 the unofficial count of jumpers exceed 1,600. The fatality rate for jumping off this bridge is 98 percent. Most jumpers die from impact trauma, while others drown or die from hypothermia. As of July 2013, only 34 people are known to have survived the fall.
Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge (Nanjing China)
This bridge stretches over the Yangtze River and connects Pukou and Xiaguan in China. The structure has two deck that allow vehicle, pedestrian, and train traffic to cross over the river each day.
The bridge was completed in 1968 and was opened to traffic the same year. Before the structure was completed the journey of crossing the river took two hours by ferry, the bridge reduced the time from hours to several minutes.
With over 2,000 recorded suicides this structure is the most common suicide spot in the world.
Sydney Harbor Bridge (Sydney Australia)
With a total length of 3,770 feet, this structure is a steel through arch bridge that links the North Shore with the Sydney Central business district. Due to its arch based design, the bridge is nicknamed “The Coathanger” locally. With a measurement of 440 feet from the top to the water level, the harbor bridge is the tallest steel arch bridge in the world.
The structure took eight years to complete and was opened during the great depression in 1932. The bridge was seen as a major triumph over the great depression because it kept many workers employed, because of this the structure was also called “ The Iron Lung”.
When the official ceremonies had come to a close people were allowed to walk across the roadway. Crossing the bridge on foot became a rarity that was not performed again until the 50th anniversary of the structure.
Akashi Kaikyo Bridge (Japan)
At 6,532 feet, it has the longest suspension span of any bridge in the world. The structure links Iwaya on Awaji Island with the city of Kobe on the mainland of Honshu in Japan. The structure is able to with stand 179 mph winds and earthquakes with a magnitude of up to 8.5.
Akashi took ten years to build, it was opened in 1998 and is used by nearly 23,000 vehicles per day. The structure has a total of 1,737 illumination computer synced lights, the bridge can be lit in twenty different patterns.