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Bridging obsessions

Given my recent obsession with a local bridge – Victoria’s Johnson Street Bridge, a bascule bridge designed by Joseph Strauss (see my article, Blue Bridge blues) – it makes sense that I’d be enthralled by manager‘s article on Hamburg’s storied bridges.

Granted, Victoria has nothing on Hamburg in the bridge department: the latter is, as the magazine puts it, Europe’s most “bridge-rich” city, boasting a total of 2500 bridges. From the mid-19th to the mid-20th century alone, 1000 new bridges got built (and presumably nearly as many destroyed by 1945, which is conflated to “mid-20th century” by the magazine article…)

One might also add that, given Victoria’s relative bridge-paucity as compared to a city like Hamburg’s bridge-richness, it seems all the more relevant to preserve the storied bridge we have, right? Our civic leaders, however, apparently don’t feel that way and say, “bombs away!” and “buh-bye Blue Bridge.”

Anyway, the magazine article provides illustrations from an exhibition now on view in Hamburg at the Museum der Arbeit, Hamburg und seine Bruecken – Baukunst, Technik, Geschichte bis 1945. The exhibition documents some amazing bridges. Here are a couple of them:
Nordelbbruecke Hamburg
This amazing structure (from 1872) combines rail and automotive transport. According to manager, the photo was taken in 1950, but I’m not clear if the bridge still exists.

Here’s another one:
Elbbruecke Hamburg

This photo is from 1915 and it looks as though this bridge is having some work done to it. Again, no idea if it’s still extant.

Finally, this one:
Portal of the Strassenbruecke Hamburg

It shows a Portal (1884-87) to what looks like the same bridge we see in the previous photo, except that the portal is a delirious Victorian-Gothic work of imperialist architecture, behind which a sort of Rapunzel-like stream of riveted steel flows abundantly …and meets another foreboding portal on the other side.

It makes Post-modernism look like a walk in the park – and us moderns like unimaginative Dilberts.

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