11 Awesome Footbridges Around the World
The architecture, engineering and meaning of bridges never ceases to inspire awe. Take the new Bay Bridge in San Francisco, which is still experiencing the effects of its newness, one month after the grand opening. And the Tacoma Narrows Bridge disaster–which collapsed in 1940–is the epitome of what we fear when crossing these giant man made structures. But at the other end of the spectrum are the human-scaled bridges–pedestrians only please! Modern and old, organic and manufactured, quaint and high, inviting and terrifying–here’s a list of ten remarkable footbridges around the world.
Built by Bandits – The Iya Valley in Japan has long been remote and difficult to access, making it a famous retreat for refugees and bandits. Hundreds of years ago, these brave residents took vines from nearby wisteria plants, grew them across the river and wove them together. They may look quaint, but you’ll change your mind about that when you are standing on one, and look down through the cracks of the bridge to the river hundreds of feet below.
Infinite Reflection – Some bridges are better by night, and the Infinity Bridge in Stockton-on-Tees, is one of them. The reflection of the outlined arches on the water creates an infinity symbol. And that’s not all–the lighting on the walkway is programmed to change in the presence of pedestrians, guiding them on their way.
Crossing Over a Glacier – Talk about a view! The Trift Bridge, a pedestrian-only suspension bridge built over the melting Trift Glacier in Switzerland, is 330 feet high and 560 feet wide. Open to visitors year round, this may be one of the world’s scariest bridges–go for the adrenaline rush!
Parting the Water – Perhaps the coolest bridge on the list, the Moses Bridge in the Netherlands defies nature by cutting straight through the water. But the architectural firm didn’t stop there–the “bridge” is constructed out of an unlikely building material in the presence of water: wood. Although it’s made from a hi-tech wood called Accoya, it remains to be seen how “the bridge” will stand the test of time.
Spiritual to Secular…or vice-versa, the “Festine Lente” Bridge, meaning “Make Haste Slowly,” is a contemporary design spanning the Milijacka River in Sarajevo. The surrounding context offers a deeper meaning for the design, with a church on one side and housing on the other. The loop-de-loop in the center of the bridge houses two benches, each one facing the opposite direction, which is ideal for sitting and meditating.
Locked Into It – Now here’s a bridge with a great story. A boy is sent away to World War I. His girl is left behind. Boy meets new girl while away. Old girl is crushed forever, not able to move on with her life. A cautionary tale for all today, the Serbian Bridge of Love is the first bridge where young lovers have displayed their undying devotion by inscribing their names on a padlock and locking it to this bridge.
Bridge of Enlightenment – Professor Randy Pausch was a teacher of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, but when he found out that he had only a few months left to live, Pausch gave an inspiring lecture entitled “The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” It was September 18, 2007 and it really was his last lecture. The Randy Pausch Bridge was erected on the Carnegie Mellon campus in his honor, and the lighting design reflects Pausch’s work and wisdom.
It’s Alive! – Not unlike the vine bridges in Japan, these root jobs were engineered by the War-Khasis, a tribe in Cherrapunji, India. They learned to train the roots of the rubber tree from one side of a river bank to the other. But once these roots take hold, these bridges just keep getting stronger every day.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a Calatrava! – The Reiman Bridge connects the city of Milwaukee to the cathedral-like art museum on the edge of Lake Michigan. The experience of crossing the bridge is like no other, particularly because you’re staring at a majestic, stark-white Santiago Calatrava-designed bird-like building, but also because the wind is whipping at you from off the lake and the traffic is roaring down below. Sounds pretty awesome, and for the first time in a long time, the word “awesome” is being appropriately used here.
A garden makes the bridge – The Bridge of Flowers, situated in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, requires a quick dive into history to fully appreciate it. In 1908 the bridge was built to accommodate a streetcar, which carried people and freight to and from a nearby mill. With the rise of the automobile, the street railway went bankrupt in 1927, and the bridge was abandoned. A couple of ladies came up with the idea that the bridge be turned into a garden.
Experience the falls – The best way to experience a waterfall is to stand on top of it. Though Multnomah Falls is not among the tallest in the U.S., it is a remarkably beautiful sight year round. The Benson Footbridge sits directly above the second cascade. A trail from the bridge leads to the very top of the waterfall. In 1995 a school bus-sized rock dislodged near the top and fell into the pool below, causing a major tidal wave.