Bridges of the world: The most underrated architectural marvels of mankind

This is a sailor's take on engineering geniuses that have spanned chasms and canyons, ravines and rifts from time immemorial. Not merely a link for the transport of people and goods, these man-made wonders have bridged the distances of culture and religion

I was a sailor for almost 20 years and this is my take on some of the most underrated architectural marvels of mankind. These engineering geniuses have spanned chasms and canyons, ravines and rifts from time immemorial. Not merely a link for the transport of people and goods, these man-made wonders have bridged the distances of culture and religion. Those who were brave enough to cross them were gifted the reward of progress

But what do we know of the life that flows underneath this wired steel: the life of ships and commerce, flora and fauna, wildlife and nature, strength and character. Dare I say: they have human emotions that give them the resilience to survive?

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The bridges are empty and human beings aren’t moving

The vibrant carousel of life is ousted by an uncanny desolation

This too shall pass because these roads are empty, not barren

This eerie silence will vanish

 We will hear again the screech of wheels and the blare of horns 

The dreams of colours will be back as happiness is not bound by frontiers

Mankind won’t feel apart and these bridges will mend our broken hearts

On April 30, 1974, Queen Juliana Bridge was opened in Willemstad, capital of the Caribbean country Curacao. One of the largest natural harbours of the region, this panoramic view of the bridge, with the colourful buildings in the backdrop, makes the city look more like a toy land.

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Courage and strength 

Time and tide will test you, break you and swallow you

Standing alone will weaken you

You will risk your being there, you lonely soul

But you are the hermit, the sage

You will pass these testing times

Your roots rest deep, in infinity

You stand tall with all the strength of steel within

You will face these storms and survive

You are selfless, you are courageous, you are immortal

Commissioned in 1952 in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, USA, by the then governor, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is officially called Governor William Preston Lane Senior Memorial Bridge, and commonly known as Bay Bridge. Its twin bridges span 6.9km and were the world’s longest continuous over-water steel structure back when it was constructed.

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Trade and commerce  

At the confluence of rivers, where the tides ebb and flow

Here comes the vessel, heavy and slow

My bridge is standing tall with entwined steel to brace

These ships ply underneath to dock and trade

Spanning the Kill Van Kull, the Bayonne Bridge is said to be the fifth longest steel arch bridge in the world. Opened on November 15, 1931, it connects New Jersey and Staten Island, New York City. The last of the three related bridges planned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, its height was recently increased for larger vessels to pass through.

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The mutiny is over, and gone are the times of peril

Having withstood testing times, you're the 25th of Abril

As my ship swiftly cuts through the water

An alluring beauty, so gracefully you appear

Embroidered steel so intricately spun

Lit so well with the last fire of the sun

This suspension bridge, a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge, Ponte 25 de Abril, is one of the most notable landmarks in a city that remembers the Portuguese Carnation Revolution, and which overthrew the remnants of the dictator Salazar who ordered its construction in 1966.

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Engineering marvel 

Where the Gods left 

the gap with a ridge

Man came and build 

there a swinging bridge

The pontoon which 

swivels and arches in line

As those coloured buildings overlook this marvel of design

So that we cross the 

river, deep and wide

And we all pass through 

the rising tide

Built in 1888 and named after the Dutch Queen, the Queen Emma Bridge connects the Punta and Otrobanda quarters of the city, Willemstad. Also known as The Swinging Old Lady, the pontoon bridge spans the St. Anna Bay, which opens regularly enabling the passage for oceangoing vessels.

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Power and prosperity

After the dark night has passed

And the sky sparkles with sunrays so sharp

Rejuvenated with the new leadership to last

Into the paradise of liberation steps Vietnam

I don't know as a nation, what tomorrow holds for me

The legend of the dragon will 

bring luck, power and prosperity

With a modern architectural design, the Dragon Bridge crosses the Han River at Da Nang, Vietnam. Designed by an American Company, it was opened on March 29, 2013, to celebrate the 38th Anniversary of the liberation of Da Nang City. It was designed in the shape of a dragon portraying power, nobility and good fortune. The dragon spits fire on Sundays and the bridge is lit up in the evenings.

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Blood and toil in the eye of the storm

Conquer this affliction 'cause only 

you can reform

I won't lose focus and let go the control

But will overcome the pain to 

discern the goal

It’s not education, talent or genius alone that find mention in the story of hugely successful men, but their grit and determination which eventually decides their achievements. Blood and toil, sweat and tears such is the story of the man who made a marvel called Brooklyn Bridge. John Roebling suffered an injury during an inspection and eventually died of a tetanus infection. But not before putting his son Washington Roebling in charge of the project, who also began to suffer from Caisson Disease. Such was his affliction that he oversaw the designing, re-designing and, in fact, the entire project from an apartment window overlooking the construction site. Built in 1883 and joining Manhattan and Brooklyn, it spanned the East River

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The world was bright and two hearts rejoiced

A new beginning was marked as we held hands tight

And got with it, trust, warmth, respect and care

All mine will be yours as love is in the air

We stand here over-looking the flowing Seine 

Our fingers touching and well entwined

Together we are here making new bonds

Not just for this life, but way beyond

Supported by four pillars, Pont Alexandre III represents France from the Renaissance. The 500-foot long and 130-foot wide bridge was inaugurated during the 1900 Paris Exhibition, providing grand architecture and exceptional scenic beauty. On request from the French government of the time, the bridge was specially engineered to be low enough to align with the skyline!


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