Germany, Uncategorized

Cologne and Dusseldorf ~~~~~~~ A Tale of Two Cities…and Two Beers. The Great Kolsch-Alt debate

IMG_7072

Incredible stonework of the cathedral in Cologne

 

Part of my journeys across Germany involved discovery of the country’s food and beverages.  And of course, the most famous German beverage is beer, so I was duty-bound to try each region’s brews whenever possible.  And generally speaking, in Germany, it is not just possible, but expected.  Beer is part of each regions’s identity, a staff of life, and the stuff as dreams are made on.  Yes, I get poetic when thinking of German beer.

While not famous outside of Germany, two types of beer, Kolsch and Alt (or Aldt) have an interesting history. Kolsch comes from Koln (Cologne), while Altbier is Dusseldorf’s darker contender.

The two cities, now friendly rivals, much the same as New York and Boston (though I don’t know any New Yorker who calls Bostonians friendly), used to have a much different relationship. From the Middle Ages through the 1800’s, before Bismarck’s unification, they were two city-states,  often at war. For many years, one could test your loyalty with a simple test: Kolsch or Alt? A person in the “old days” — meaning as recently as the 1970’s — could be beaten up in Dusseldorf for asking for Kolsch, and vice-versa in Cologne.

I was informed of all this by a German friend.  I knew that I had no choice but to try both beers, in their respective cities.

And, like Champagne, genuine Kolsch (there’s supposed to be an umlaut over the “o” but I don’t know how to to that on WP) can only be brewed in Cologne — breweries elsewhere can produce kolsch-style lager, but it cannot be labeled Kolsch.

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47de-31c7-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w

 

 

 

IMG_7067

Cologne’s “Lock Bridge” — sweethearts have their initials engraved on padlocks and add them to the railings. The Pont des Arts in Paris had to remove theirs, due to the sheer weight.

So, the first day of this quest was spent in Cologne. A beautiful and ancient town along the Rhine, it has a friendly laid-back vibe, partially due to its huge student population.

 

IMG_7068

A Work of Art. so I had it framed.

A moment for time to stop and to remember forever — I had my first Kolsch at a riverside restaurant, on a beautiful and still sunny day, with the Rhine’s brownish water slowly flowing by.  The locals call a round tray of beers a “Kranz” which means “wreath” and that seems appropriate, to celebrate this wonderful drink and a great city.

 

I will remember having this first sip of Kolsch, from the Gaffel brauhaus — it was fantastic. So crisp and light, the locals often jokingly call it “American Beer”. It was one of the most delicious and refreshing beers I’ve ever had.  And I drank it sitting alongside the legendary Rhine, surrounded by the sound of many relaxed conversations, and a plate of Currywurst, and time to talk with my friend.

A Really Good Day.

 

 

IMG_7066

The “Lock Bridge” at Cologne

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47e3-3476-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.wWhile, at the time, I was relaxed and content, I didn’t fully appreciate the complete pleasantness that defined and permeated that day, and, as my taste-memory triggers strong recall (as smells do for most other people), I can vividly imagine the way the beer tasted. More than that, when I think of that particular glass of beer, I’m transported back to that spot along the Rhine, with the lock bridge, and some statues just barely visible behind a clump of trees — trees planted specifically to shade the lucky patrons of restaurants by the Rhine. I remember seeing the Viking river cruise boats chugging by, the delicious ice cream I had in that town, and the Gothic beauty of the Kolner Dom.  nypl.digitalcollections.510d47e3-3477-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w

 

IMG_7065

A statue of the mysterious person known only as “The Man Who Could Never Get That Bird Off His Hat”

 

IMG_7073After a long hike up winding stairs, the Dom, a magnificent and mighty church, offered us views of the entire city, as it stretched along one of the world’s finest rivers.   (Brown-hued, but busy, impressive, and certainly a more pleasant river than the Hudson back home, with its PCB’s and three- headed fish.)  I remember ending the day at the Chocolate Museum, and the smell of cocoa wafting through the air.

IMG_7063

The Chocolate Museum.

 

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47da-a691-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.rThe next day, in Dusseldorf, was even more pleasant, if possible.  I had been staying with my friend Alicia, who I knew from Lingnan University, and in Dusseldorf, I got to meet up with another friend I’d met at that school, Tobias.  I felt very lucky to have made friends with these great people – they seemed happy to show me around, were excellent guides, and even better company, .  Tobi was actually a Koln boy, but had spent lots of time in Dusseldorf.  I had my first experience of the Autobahn driving down from Koln, and having survived, was ready to walk around Dusseldorf.

 

IMG_7057

This is the second-richest city in Germany (after Munich), and Germans from other regions had told me it is seen as being…sort of snotty. But I found the people there to be even friendlier and warmer than Cologne’s.  Cologne, despite being a college town, was busy but didn’t seem to have much of an energetic vibe — the slow river giving it a relaxed air. Dusseldorf, on a faster-moving stretch of the same river, seemed far more alive. Not as loud, but more bouncy and hip.

Dusseldorf captured my imagination as much as the much more historic and picturesque cityscape of Koln.

IMG_7064

IMG_7054And here, we of course tried Alt, their local beer.  Dark, heavy, I liked it far less than Kolsch (I didn’t say this out loud) — but thinking about that beer, takes me back to that day as well. It’s “old beer” style (that’s literally what “altbier” means), interesting dark copper color, strong/clear flavor, and the impression it gives of “thickness” embodies the town in which it was made, much the same as Kolsch reflects the lighter vibe of Cologne. Dusseldorf’s layers of history came out with the flavor of hops and dark malt. Though sunny, the weather in Dusseldorf fluctuated several times in the course of one day, and we wandered the city, seeing the old town by the Rhine juxtaposed against the modern bridges and towers of their industry.

IMG_7061

The city has the world’s highest population of Japanese executives outside of Japan!  SONY, Toshiba, Sanyo, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and several other large Japanese companies have regional headquarters in Dusseldorf, some since as early as WWII. Therefore, there is a large “Japan Town,” where we had lunch that day, first having more traditional German snacks. This too is part of enjoying the unique and deeper flavor of Alt.

IMG_7060

Look carefully at the steeple – – age and human error have left it twisted like a soft-serve ice cream

The architecture of the city is also very “European” — churches with steeples bent by the ages, right next to modern structures — some of Frank Gehry’s earliest designs — with an unusual and almost imaginary-feeling set of houses along the river. Here we saw displayed the money that the city is famous for — glitzy condominiums, vehicles costing several hundred thousand dollars, and stores with suits that might have cost as much as the vehicles.

IMG_7058

Frank Gehry

We took a short side-trip out of the city, to the palace of an old king, still close enough to see skyline of the old city.  This palace, I think, was actually the king’s summer home (though I’m not sure), and it reminded me of a Southern plantation — a huge estate, surrounded by undeveloped tracts of land, now converted into a public park.

IMG_7059

On the day we were there, a group of wealthy Persians were having a wedding inside the 17th Century ballroom, and, with their exotic wedding garb, it struck me that this is how a ball would’ve looked at that time, perhaps with less form-fitting dresses. The grounds too were beautiful — lawns and topiary and statuary and fountains.   I was in for another treat, when we ended up along a beautiful stretch of the Rhine, with container ships drifting by, and the cityscape visible across the bend in the river, and people lounging around outside on a beautiful day.

IMG_7056

I’ve been telling people for years about the frog-people, but this was the first time I got a good picture, when they clambered out of the Rhine and scaled this building.

These are the memories invoked when I summon up the taste of the beers, as interesting as their cities. For me, the culinary journey is part of what brings a city to life, and it is vital to try something local and authentic to get the most out of any experience.

IMG_7055

My friends Alicia and Tobias in front of the Alt house. Technically, this is the longest “bar” in the world, but in reality it is several open buildings with street seating. Or standing.

Standard
History, Upstate New York, Waterloo

Napoleon is not Dynamite in Waterloo

 

Martin Van Buren Old Kinderhook LOC

Martin Van Buren, “Old Kinderhook” Library of Congress.

My Hometown, Part I

As the story goes, Martin Van Buren was pretty pissed-off when they renamed my hometown “Waterloo.”

Since he was from the old days, and was a President, I should not be so vulgar, so let’s say he was “piqued”,  “exasperated,” or “apoplectic.”

 

Or perhaps we should say, verbolgen en kwaad, since he probably thought in Dutch, his first language.

He seems to have been a pretty happy guy, and, for a lifelong politician, a pretty decent one.  But when they created “Waterloo, New York,” he was irate.

I’ve always been puzzled about the re-branding of my town.

 

Who names their town after their enemy’s greatest victory?

 

V0024799 Astronomy: various apocalyptic scenes, including a grieving Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Astronomy: various apocalyptic scenes, including a grieving widow, war, and the Duke of Wellington rejecting Harriet Winter [?]. Coloured lithograph, n.d. [c.1839?]. Published: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Wellcome Library

I grew up in a small village in upstate New York, in the Finger Lakes region.

There was a Cayuga Indian village here, destroyed during the Revolution, called “Skoi-Yase.”  When the whites moved in, they called their settlement  “Skoys,” “Scauyes,” “Scayau,” etc. and later, “New Hudson.”

At that time, this area was “The Military Tract” – over a million acres sold by, or taken from, the Cayuga Nation, one of the Iroquois tribes that fought on the losing side during the Revolution.  The tract was parceled out as compensation to war veterans who’d fought on the winning side.

So there was a concentration of people in this area, who’d fought against the British Army.

Continental dollar

“Not worth a Continental” was an old American expression.

The Continental Congress, short of cash, and not much trusted (some things never change) had promised to reward its soldiers with land.  A private got 100 acres, a lieutenant got 200, a colonel 500, etc.

New York, which was also short of cash, sweetened the pot, and gave each private an additional 500 acres, and so on, up to a major general, who got over eight square miles.  This is during a time when 100 acres amounted to a good-sized farm.

Some of the veterans chose to sell their “bounty” land.  So just after the War of 1812, Elisha Williams bought a square mile of this Military Tract.  He was a Yankee lawyer who moved to Hudson, NY, and became a land speculator… and a political enemy of Martin Van Buren, who lived in the same town.  Williams sold off building lots for a new village, at first called “New Hudson.”

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47d9-84e7-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w

Dutch dragoon. NY Public Library.

In 1816, the residents, apparently prompted by Williams, voted to rename the village “Waterloo.”

So in a place specifically set aside for veterans who’d fought the British, and just after fighting the British again in the War of 1812, the village was renamed “Waterloo,”  after the British triumph.

Doesn’t that strike you as just a bit weird?

 

V0048407 Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington. He rose to prominence in the Napoleonic Wars, eventually reaching the rank of field marshal. 1814 By: Thomas Phillipsafter: William SayPublished: Nov. 8 1814. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The Duke of Wellington. Little known fact: all the evergreens in Britain were used up by 1814, used to construct warships during the Napoleonic wars, so England had a chronic shortage of Christmas trees — they were forced to decorate public figures instead. Wellcome Library

New York saw a lot of bloodshed during the Revolution.  This is where George Washington got kicked off Long Island and lost New York City.   An entire British army marched into NY’s North Country, and marched out again as prisoners, after the Battle of Saratoga.  Mad Anthony Wayne shot and captured hundreds of British at Stony Point, and  New York settlers suffered the Cherry Valley Massacre,  and countless other frontier fights with the Iroquois and their British and Tory allies.  Benedict Arnold tried to hand over West Point, and his handler, Major Andre, was hanged at Tappan.

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47da-2fe7-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.r

Benedict Arnold. Like Elisha Williams, a Connecticut Yankee, not a New Yorker

More Americans died of starvation and disease in the British prison ships in New  York Harbor, than in all the battles of the war.

As a little reminder of British consideration for American prisoners, their bones washed up on the shores of Brooklyn for decades.

And during the War of 1812, New Yorkers fought the British again, all along the Canadian frontier, and in Ontario and Quebec. Villages on both sides of the Niagara frontier and the Great Lakes were raided and burned, and ships were captured and sunk in naval battles.  The Americans crossed from Buffalo to capture Fort Erie and Fort George, and the British crossed over to storm Fort Niagara.

Plattsburg LOC

The War of 1812. The last British invasion of the northern U.S. – the Battle of Plattsburgh, NY aka Battle of Lake Champlain. Library of Congress. (sea of green and lots of smoke, hmmm.)

Everyone remembers the Battle of Baltimore, because of the bombardment of Fort McHenry, the “rockets’ red glare, “Star-spangled Banner, etc.  The day before, though, a bloodier battle was fought on the border between New York and Quebec. Veterans of Wellington’s battles in Spain participated in the last British invasion of the northern U.S. — which was defeated at Plattsburgh, NY, and on Lake Champlain.

Wellington’s army included the King’s German Legion, drawn mostly from Hanover and Brunswick, sources of many of the much-hated “Hessians” during the Revolution.  Other regiments of Redcoats and Highlanders fighting at Waterloo, had fought in New York during the Revolution, in the battles for Long Island, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.  British units which helped defeat Napoleon, had also participated in the Battle of New Orleans (where Wellington’s brother-in-law was killed), attacks in Maryland, and in the burning of Washington, D.C.

From my kitchen window, I can see the old “Elisha Williams” cemetery, where little flags are always flying on the graves of veterans of all this fighting.   General Maltby, the American commander at Boston during the War of 1812, is buried there, as is a Revolutionary War vet who’d survived the infamous British prison hulks.

Waterloo battlefield 1890 LOC

Waterloo battlefield, circa 1890. Library of Congress

None of these people could have felt very friendly to the Union Jack – – so how did they accept having their village renamed in honor of Wellington’s victory?

 

Elisha Williams was a Yankee and a Federalist – – and both groups bitterly opposed the War of 1812.  He may well have suggested “Waterloo” as a thumb-in-the-eye to the Democratic-Republicans, like his bitter opponent, Martin Van Buren.

Napoleon House of Representatives LOC

Napoleon. U.S. House of Representatives. Library of Congress

When Van Buren heard of the new “Waterloo” in his state, he immediately insisted on renaming another village “Austerlitz”, in honor of Napoleon’s biggest victory.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————-

DSC08358

photo credit: Sarah Teel. Thanks, sis.

“In historical events, great men –so called– are but the labels that serve to give a name to an event, and like labels, they have the last possible connection with the event itself.”  Tolstoy

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Maybe part of the answer, then and now, is that “New Yorkers” by definition, care more about the present day, than about history or the past.

So the mystery of why my town is called Waterloo is put to rest.

The answer is, that it just doesn’t matter.

Then or now, most New Yorkers don’t care if their town is called Waterloo, Austerlitz, or Calcutta — we have them all.  

We have a hamlet called Marengo — one of Napoleon’s early victories, and a delicious chicken recipe.  And if any of you actually waded through Tolstoy’s War and Peace, we have a Borodino, too, a Napoleonic bloodbath on the way to Moscow.

NY is famous for classical references (Syracuse, Utica, Greece).  My county has little cowpie hamlets grandly named Ovid, Romulus, Junius, and Tyre, complete with a crumbling Roman-style courthouse and decaying “Greek Revival” farmhouses.

This state also has Cadiz, Copenhagen, Dresden, Medina, Stockholm, Zurich, Berlin, New Berlin, Poland, Cuba, Salamanca, and a Stone Arabia (no idea on that last one).  And just a few miles down the road from me is Montezuma.

And today, I unconditionally guarantee, my fellow villagers do not know, or care, about ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the Aztec Empire, or who fought at Waterloo, or which side won.

If you explained Napoleon’s final defeat to them, they would probably just express relief at not having to learn French in school.

OK, end of rant.  Our state motto is “Excelsior“, so onward and upward, moving on, ditching history as we go.

But I still think, before you graduate from school in a town called Waterloo, they should at least make it mandatory to know a bit about Wellington’s Victory.  Maybe just watch the 1970 movie, with Rod Steiger as Napoleon, and Christopher Plummer as Wellington.  And Orson Welles, too, I don’t remember in what role, perhaps as the Chateau d’Hougoumont?

——————————————————————————————————————————————————

In Part II, I searched newspapers across the country, to see how all the Waterloo’s around the USA (a clear majority of states have one) commemorated the 200th anniversary of the battle.  (Here’s a spoiler — it’s a pretty short list!)

Maybe it was just “Battle Anniversary Overload”?  Here’s a few more for 2015, and the movies to watch if you don’t want to read a history book:

600th anniversary of Agincourt – I think they’re supposed to be working on a movie right now.  But in the meantime, look up on YouTube, Kenneth Branagh doing the pre-battle speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V.  Seriously, if you don’t feel moved, go to the hospital, have them check you for a pulse.

100th anniversary of Gallipoli – the only time I’ve liked Mel Gibson, in a Peter Weir movie of the same name.   And Russell Crowe in The Water Diviner

75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain – the movie version is almost fifty years old, but lots of real airplanes, not computer simulations, with Michael Caine, Laurence Olivier, Christopher Plummer, again, and pretty much every other British actor alive in 1969

 

 

Standard
History, Uncategorized

Old Milwaukee. Troubled bridges over water.

Milwaukee drawbridge LOC

Milwaukee drawbridge. LOC

Milwaukee is often overlooked and overshadowed by Chicago and Detroit (even if usually for bad news), and seem destined to never be quite as cool as the Twin Cities (“The Hipster Capital of the Tundra”).

So it’s natural that the city’s interesting and unusual history isn’t any more publicized that the city itself.

Like NYC, Milwaukee wasn’t always one city – it was formed by a merger of rival settlements.  Three towns became one, and bridging the three-way split required…what do you think?  Rationality?  Efficiency?  Common sense?  Come on, get real, there were politicians and capitalists involved.  And these are Badgers we’re talking about!  These people chose an incredibly combative giant weasel for their mascot.  Of course there was some strife and lunacy before they could come together.

“The Bridge War” was part of the city’s tumultuous creation process — an odd story of destruction and “burning bridges” rather than building them.

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47d9-9b0e-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w

1901 Milwaukee River. NY Public Library

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47e1-c0a6-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w

1885 Milwaukee River from Walker’s Point Bridge. NY Public Library

The Milwaukee River is now mostly a place for pleasure boats.  But people focused on rivers in the old days, in ways that we’ve forgotten.  Rivers were the highways and trade routes, and sources of energy, and were still important, long after the railroads and steam engines came along.  They were lines of communication.  But they also have always served as borders and frontiers.

Natives of New York City are very aware that its boroughs were once proud, independent towns and cities, some for over two centuries.  In the 1800’s, the Roeblings built what was then the longest suspension bridge in the world, to link Manhattan to… those people on the other side of the East River.  The Brooklyn Bridge was an instant hit, and over 150,000 crossed on the first day, between the two biggest cities in the area, but a few years later, when the cities voted on merger, it was a real squeaker, and Brooklyn passed it by just a few hundred votes.

And Milwaukee had its Bridge War, which resulted from a fierce rivalry between three communities.

Juneautown was on the East bank of the Milwaukee River,

Kilbourntown was on the West bank,

and Walker’s Point was on the South bank.

Wait, can a river have three banks?  OK, Walker’s Point turned out to be on the south bank of the Menomonee River, and not pointy at all as far as I can make out.

All three towns were named for their founders, and all three founders were very much alive and well at the time of the War.  In fact, once the city was created, they took turns being mayor.  Which is nice.

But in the beginning, we had three rival Founding Fathers – – who were classic examples of that all-American hybrid, the Politician-Capitalist–Land Speculator.  The competition between their settlements was so intense, they deliberately laid out their streets, so that they didn’t intersect with their rivals’.  Even today, most of the bridges in this city have to cross the river on a diagonal, posing a hazard for boats, as a result of this nonsense.

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47e1-c0a8-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w

1885 Milwaukee River. NY Public Library

In 1845, the state government ordered the creation of a bridge over the Milwaukee River, between Juneau’s and Kilbourn’s sectors.  This proved widely unpopular on both sides of the river, as they enjoyed being independent entities, and feared they would lose out financially if they became part of a bigger collective.  There was also the simple economics of deciding who would pay to maintain and run the bridge.

Then and now, here and abroad, the “West Bank” always seems to be problematical.

On May 8, 1845, the people of Kilbourntown started the war, by simply dumping their half of the bridge into the river. They destroyed the drawbridge, to prevent those on the East Side from entering their town.  In retaliation, the Easterners destroyed other small bridges, to prevent the denizens of the West from crossing to Juneautown.  There were fistfights and worse, but no one was actually killed, and the ridiculous and petty war shortly fizzled out.  The next year, sanity prevailed and a united city was created.

In any case, the Germans had started arriving – including soon-to-be-famous brewers — Miller, Schlitz, Pabst, and Blatz – and somehow the whole East Bank – West Bank thing didn’t seem so important, after a couple of steins of beer.

Solomon Juneau served as the first mayor, and his rivals Walker and Kilbourn also had their shot at running the city.  Juneau married a member of the Menomonee Nation, and retired to the country.  Once a year, his cousin Joseph would write to remind him, that his town was still called Juneau, Alaska, and why exactly was Solomon’s place called Milwaukee now?  (Ok I made that last part up.)

Byron Kilbourn went on to various elected positions and business speculations, until his sharp-dealing caught up to him, and a bribery scandal caused his railroad to go bankrupt.  He ended up forgotten in Jacksonville, Florida.  About twenty years ago, the city dug him up and reburied him here – – he was kind of a disgrace, but they wanted a complete set of Founding Fathers.

George Walker was a fur trader, and never had the cash of the other two, and lost control of his patch of land.  But he did get to be mayor.  Twice.

A minute, trivial footnote in history, for a city almost reduced to the skids.  But a good lesson about a place that shook off its selfish, bridge-burning past and united, and made a contribution to America.

IMG_1793

My first day in Milwaukee

Footnote

Personally, I’ve always been fascinated by bridges – the architecture, the symbolism, and the stories.  A good bridge is not just beautiful, it almost always carries with it a good story or two.   So when I first set foot in Milwaukee, I looked at my little map and headed for the river.

My guidebook said the river has Bascules.  My keen, college-educated mind presented three options:

  • If I remembered biology class correctly, a bascule is the digestive tract of an amoeba, or,
  • that mysterious ethic group in northern Spain, that used to blow things up, or,
  • a mythological creature that asks you three questions or riddles or something, and if you get it wrong, it eats you or you fall into the Gorge of Eternal Peril. Or something.

So, it turned out, all three guesses were wrong.  A Bascule is a kind of drawbridge.  The drawbridge was being pulled up when I got there, and I looked across the river to see what had caused the Panic & Alarum — an attack on Milwaukee, expecting to see maybe…a horde from the Sons of Norway with battle axes?  Scott Walker & The Tea Party, waving torches?  The Menomonee Nation on the warpath?

But it dawned on me — the lift bridges are just  to let the boats go out to the lake.

Bascule bridge Chicago 1890 LOC

Bascule bridge. Chicago 1890. LOC

There is an endless stream of stories about bridges:

  • Brooklyn Bridge 1910 LOC

    Brooklyn Bridge 1910. LOC

    T. Barnum’s parade of elephants, to prove the safety of the Brooklyn Bridge .

  • A really cool science lesson called “aeroelastic flutter,” “mechanical resonance,” or maybe “sympathetic vibration” (I don’t know, whatever, did you think I was a physics major?) when the Tacoma Narrows Bridge turned into “Galloping Gertie” and ripped itself apart – – just very cool, and scary, to see a suspension bridge start bucking in waves, look up the video.
  • The storied London Bridge, (“London Bridge is falling down, falling down…“) now sitting on an artificial lake in Arizona.
  • The Millennium Bridge in London, a beautiful sculpture, and a fantastic pedestrian walkway over the Thames — except the engineers forgot that pedestrians are human beings. When it opened, the first people walking across it, instinctively compensated for the slight swaying motion — and their reactions collectively made it sway harder and harder, until it was impossible to walk.  I thought it sounded fun, but they added more guy-wires to fix it.
  • The Waterloo Bridge, with bronze lamps made by melting down Napoleon’s cannons
  • Tappan Zee Bridge – NY’s sagging, staggeringly expensive symbol of governmental infighting and dysfunction
  • Golden Gate Bridge LOC

    Golden Gate Bridge LOC

    The Golden Gate – beautiful, impressive, but a magnet for over a thousand suicides

  • Even the Roeblings weren’t infallible – – their Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge lasted forty years, carrying trains on one level and pedestrians on another, but when locomotives got heavier, it had to be replaced with a homely, but stronger, steel arch bridge.
  • Hell Gate Bridge LOC

    Hell Gate Bridge LOC

    Hells Gate Bridge in NYC, so-called, because when you cross it, you’re in Queens.  The model for the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia.  To my eye, kind of ugly, but incredibly strong.  Part of it is supported by another span, far underground, over a fissure in the rock bed.    The bridge’s piers are on two islands, and supposedly, they were made of very smooth stone, so that inmates on the islands’ mental asylums couldn’t climb up and escape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard