TLW's Bridgescope™ (Bridge Historyscope)
By T.L. Winslow (TLW), the Historyscoper™
© Copyright by T.L. Winslow. All Rights Reserved.
Original Pub. Date: May 22, 2019. Last Update: June 23, 2019.
Westerners are not only known as history ignoramuses, but double dumbass history ignoramuses when it comes to bridges and bridge history. Since I'm the one-and-only Historyscoper (tm), let me quickly bring you up to speed before you dive into my Master Historyscope.
In 1209 the stone London Bridge across the Thames River is completed after 33 years (begun 1176), with the Chapel of St. Thomas on the Bridge in the center dedicated to martyr Thomas Becket, becoming the official start of the pilgrimage to his shrine in Canterbury; in 1212 a fire breaks out on both ends; by 1358 it is home to 138 shops plus a number of latrines; another fire during Wat Tyler's Peasant Revolt of 1381 burns a number of houses, and ditto during Jack Cade's rebellion of 1450; a major fire in 1633 destroys the northern third of the bridge, forming a firebreak preventing further damage during the 1666 Great Fire of London; in 1831 a new London Bridge opens 100 ft. W of the old bridge; on Mar. 17, 1973 a 3rd London Bridge is opened by Elizabeth II, comprising three spans of pre-stressed concrete box girders.
On May 20, 1809 the Long Street Bridge (originally Long Bridge) over the Potomac River in the District of Columbia opens, becoming the 2nd Potomac bridge after the 1797 one near Little Falls upstream of Georgetown; on Aug. 25, 1814 the British burn the N end, and the Americans burn the S end; it is rebuilt by 1816; it goes on to be washed away in 1831 and 1857 and rebuilt, becoming a favorite of Walt Whitman to use on long hikes outside Washington, D.C.
On Mar. 18, 1855 the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge (begun 1848) opens, becoming the world's first working railway suspension bridge, connecting Niagara Falls, Ont., Canada with Niagara Falls, N.Y.; the Maid of the Mist tour boat starting and ending on the U.S. side (founded 1846) starts near the Rainbow Bridge, sails past American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls and into Horseshoe (Canadian) Falls; in 1897 it is replaced by the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge.
On Dec. 28, 1879 (7:15 p.m.) the Tay Bridge Disaster on the Firth of Tay in Scotland sees the 10,709-ft. (3,264m) Tay Bridge (opened June 1, 1878) collapse during a violent storm when a train en route from Wormit to Dundee passes over it, killing all aboard, revealing shoddy construction by Scottish engineers; a 2nd bridge opens on June 20, 1887 - and is the original source of the phrase "Beam me up, Scotty"?
On May 24, 1883 (2:00 p.m. ET) the 5,989-ft. x 85 ft. Brooklyn Bridge over the East River linking Manhattan and Brooklyn, designed by German-born civil engineer John Augustus Roebling (1806-69) opens, becoming the first modern suspension bridge and the first land passage between Manhattan and Brooklyn; one of the bridge supports sits on the site of the first U.S. pres. exec. house; 1.8K vehicles and 150,300 people cross on the first day; on May 30 a rumor that the bridge is about to collapse causes a stampede, and 12 people are trampled to death.
On Mar. 30, 1909 the 3,724.5-ft. (135.2m) long, 100-ft. (30m) wide 2-level (double-decked) double cantilever Queensboro (59th St.) Bridge over the East River in New York City, connecting Upper East Side, Manhattan with Long Island City, Queens opens, going on to become the first entry point into Manhattan for the New York City Marathon; in 2012 a $300M replacement (begun 1987) opens; in Dec. 2010 it is renamed the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, pissing-off the residents of Queens, who refuse to quit calling it by its old name.
On Dec. 31, 1909 the 1,470-ft. (448m) suspension Manhattan Bridge in New York City over the East River between Canal St. in Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn (begun 1901) opens to traffic, becoming the first suspension bridge to employ the deflection theory of Josef Melan for the deck, and the first to utilize a Warren Truss, becoming a forerunner of modern suspension bridges, designed by Latvian-born bridge engineer Leon Solomon Moisseiff (1872-1943).
On Oct. 24, 1931 N.Y. gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicates the George Washington Bridge (begun Sept. 21, 1927), designed by Swiss-born civil engineer Othmar Hermann Ammann (1879-1965), spanning the Hudson River between W. 178th St. in Manhattan and Ft. Lee, N.J., becoming the world's longest suspension bridge (until ?), carrying up to 100M vehicles/year; its two support towers rise 604 ft. above the water, and the bridge is supported on four 36-in. diam. cables; thrifty Swiss Ammann brings the bridge in ahead of schedule and under budget, and goes on to design the Bayonne Bridge (opened Nov. 15, 1931), Triborough Bridge (opened July 11, 1936), and Bronx-Whitestone Bridge (opened Apr. 29, 1939).
On May 27, 1933 (Thur.) after it is finished on Apr. 19, the 4,200-ft. (1,280m) long, 746 ft. (227m) high orange vermilion-painted Calif. Golden Gate Bridge in the 3 mi. x 1 mi. Golden Gate Strait in San Francisco Bay, connecting San Francisco and Marin County (begun Jan. 5, 1933) opens to foot traffic, becoming the longest and tallest suspension bridge on Earth (until ?); Donald Bryan (a sprinter from San Francisco Junior College) becomes the first person to cross it; on May 28 Pres. Roosevelt pushes a button in Washington, D.C. signaling that vehicular traffic is free to cross; by 2006 about 1.2K people (one every couple of weeks) jump off over the 4 ft. safety railing and die, traveling 25 stories in 4 sec. and hitting the water at 75 mph.
On Nov. 7, 1940 (11:00 a.m. PST) the 5.4K-ft. suspension Tacoma Narrows Bridge AKA Galloping Gertie in Puget Sound between Tacoma, Wash. and the Kitsap Peninsula, begun in 1938 and opened on July 1 begins swaying violently in 40 mph winds before collapsing, becoming the reason for engineering schools to teach engineers about eigenvalues and resonant frequencies, ruining the rep of Latvian-born bridge engineer Leon Solomon Moisseiff (1874-1943); a new bridge opens on Oct. 14, 1950.
On Oct. 31, 1962 the steel girder truss toll Saul Ste. Marie Internat. Bridge (begun 1960) opens, connecting Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Ontario, Canada over the St. Marys River.
On June 23, 1964 the Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt Bridge (begun 1960) over the Potomac River between Washington, D.C. and Va. opens; it serves as the W end of Constitution Ave.
On Nov. 21, 1964 the $325M, 200K-ton (75 cents/lb.), 4,260-ft.-long double-decked Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (Verrazzano) (begun Aug. 13, 1959), designed by Swiss-born civil engineer Othmar Hermann Ammann (1879-1965), and named after Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano (1485-1527) (first Euro to cross the Narrows in 1524) opens, linking Brooklyn on Long Island with Staten Island over the Narrows, becoming the world's longest suspension bridge (until 1981), 60 ft. longer than the Golden Gate Bridge and 750 ft. longer than the 1931 Geo. Washington Bridge, which Ammann also designed; it marks the gateway to New York Habor as all ships arriving at the Port of New York and New Jersey pass underneath it; in 1976 the Staten Island end becomes the starting point of the New York City Marathon.
In 2006 Italy scraps plans to build a 2.5 mi. bridge across the Messina Straits to Sicily, which would have been the world's longest single-span suspension bridge.
On June 30, 2011 China opens the 16.6 mi. Jiaozhou Bay (Qingdao Haiwan) Bridge in Shangdong Province, becoming the longest bridge over water (until ?), passing the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in La by 2 mi.