Posted on August 14, 2017 by Janet Steinberg
Bridging Gaps Around the World

"I want to be the bridge to the next generation”

Michael Jordan

 

BRIDGE?  What is a bridge?  

A bridge can be different things to different people.  It can be a ship's control room…an understanding between people…the closing of a generation gap…a means of approach…the top of a nose…or even a partial plate of false teeth.  However, the bridges that fascinate me the most are those structures that allow passage across an obstacle. We walk on some, we drive on some, we sail under some and we even shop on some.  

In some respects, bridges are like people.  They have personalities and even nicknames such as The Swinging Queen, The Comb and The Coathanger. They personify the imagination, the architecture and the art of a city.  Next time you approach a bridge, don’t just walk on it or drive across it.   Be sure to look at it…I mean really look at it!  When I finally took a good look at a bridge that had been in my Cincinnati hometown for decades before I was born, I realized there was a treasure approximately one mile from my home.  Please allow me to share with you my hometown treasure and some other architectural gems from around the world.

JOHN A. ROEBLING SUSPENSION BRIDGE, CINCINNATI, OHIO:  When the first pedestrians crossed the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge in 1866, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.  Spanning the Ohio River from Covington, Kentucky to Cincinnati, Ohio, the bridge is also used by pedestrians who walk between the two states for entertainment and sports venues on both sides of the river.  The bright blue color of the bridge, affectionately dubbed “Kentucky Blue” was said to have influenced Daniel Libeskind's choice of blue glass for his adjacent condominium, The Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge. The Roebling Suspension Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1983.

 

 
ROEBLING’S BLUE SUSPENSION BRIDGE ADJACENT TO LIBESKIND’S BLUE-GLASSED ASCENT.

 

QUEEN EMMA BRIDGE, CURACAO: She’s “The Swinging Queen”.  No, you’re not hearing the words of a new ABBA song, nor are you reading the title of a hit tune in a “Mamma Mia” sequel. This Swinging Queen is Queen Emma, Willemstad’s famous 19th-century pontoon bridge that, without saying a word, shouts “bon-bini” (welcome) to Curacao. Queen Emma may be old and pudgy, but Queen Emma still swings.  This venerable old lady, taking it somewhat easier in her late years, is now closed to vehicular traffic and has become a giant floating sidewalk for pedestrians.  The floating Queen Emma pontoon bridge splits Curacao's capital city of Willemstad into two neighborhoods: Otrobanda  (which literally means "the other side") and Punda, the side more known to tourists.

 

 

 

QUEEN EMMA, THE SWINGING QUEEN

 

ALAMEDA BRIDGE, VALENCIA, SPAIN:  Also known as the Pont de l"Exposicio, the Alemeda Bridge, completed in 1995, spans the dry Turia river bed in Valencia, Spain.  It has also been nicknamed "Peineta", the Spanish word for the decorative combs Spanish women wear in their hair.  Designed by Valencian architect”Santiago Calatrava, the 535-foot bridge connects the city center with the university district.  The Alameda Metro Station, also designed by Calatrava, is beneath the bridge.

 

 
CALATRAVA’S ALAMEDA BRIDGE

 

 

BRIDGE OF SIGHS,VENICE, ITALY: The only covered bridge in Venice, this tiny baroque bridge is made of white limestone with windows that have stone bars.  Built in 1600, the bridge was used to move criminals from the ground floor of the Doge’s Palace to a building directly across a narrow canal from the Palace.  In the 19th century, Lord Byron translated the Italian name Ponte dei Sospiri to Bridge of Sighs. Folklore surrounds the Bridge of Sighs. One tale has it that the name came from the sighs of prisoners sentenced to life in the new prison as they took in their last view of Venice from the tiny windows in the bridge.  Another, possibly spread by the gondoliers, says if you kiss your love beneath the bridge at sunset, your love will last forever.

 

 

 
GONDOLAS GLIDE BENEATH THE ENCLOSED BRIDGE OF SIGHS

 

 

SOMERSET BRIDGE, BERMUDA: Somerset Bridge, originally built in 1620 (and cranked open by hand in those days) connects Somerset Island with Sandys Parish on the Bermuda mainland. Measuring a mere 32 inches wide, it is reputedly the smallest working drawbridge in the world.  Today, two cantilevered half-spans are separated by an 18-inch gap and bridged by a thick timber panel that must be removed whenever a yacht wishes to pass beneath the bridge.  This allows the mast of the yacht to pass through the gap.

 

 
SOMERSET BRIDGE IS SAID TO BE THE SMALLEST DRAWBRIDGE IN THE  WORLD

 

WOMAN’S BRIDGE, BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: Puente De La Mujer, as it is called in Buenos Aires, is a rotating footbridge in the Puerto Madero commercial district of Buenos Aires, Argentina.  The bridge got its name because many streets in the Puerto Madero district have women's names.  Cables connected to a single mast suspend a part of the bridge that rotates 90 degrees.  When the bridge swings to let a ship pass, the far end rests on a stabilizing pylon.  The architect, Santiago Calatrava described his design “as a synthesis of the image of a couple dancing the tango

 

 
THE WOMAN’S BRIDGE

 

PONTE VECCHIO, FLORENCE, ITALY: Crossing the Arno River on the medieval stone Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) may be most expensive bridge crossing you ever make.  No, this oldest bridge, opened in 1345, is not a toll bridge.  It is a bridge that glistens from the gold baubles lining the windows of the jewelry stores that once were butcher shops.  It’s hard to resist the urge to purchase a bauble. The butchers were forced to leave their bridge shops by Grand Duke Ferdinando 1, who didn’t like the noise or the odor created by their trade. The fourteenth century Ponte Vecchio, is the only bridge in Florence that was not blown up during World War II. Although severely damaged when the Arno flooded in 1966, the bridge miraculously withstood the tremendous weight of the silt and the water. 

 

 
PONTE VECCHIO REFLECTED IN THE ARNO RIVER

 

Wherever your travels…or your life… may take you, cross that bridge!  You never know what you’ll find on the other side. 

 

TEXT AND PHOTOS by JANET STEINBERG.

STEINBERG is the winner of 43 national Travel Writer Awards. She is also a Travel Consultant with The Travel Authority in Cincinnati, Ohio

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