simple is beautiful
New York Daily Photo: Twist and Shout
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Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Twist and Shout

The Manhattan Bridge was the last of the three great suspension bridges built across the East River (the other two are the Brooklyn and Williamsburg). The bridge connects lower Manhattan (Canal Street) with Brooklyn (Flatbush Avenue). The photo is from the Brooklyn side in DUMBO. The bridge, completed in 1909, carries tremendous traffic: two roadways, upper and lower, with 6 lanes of vehicular traffic, subway tracks, a walkway and bikeway. It has, however, been plagued with problems from its inception which were neglected until recently. The bridge designer, Leon Moisseiff, located the subway tracks on the outer sides of the roadway rather than the center. The design flaw was discovered soon after construction - the bridge twisted whenever a train passed. The problem got worse, movement in the roadway (as much as several feet up and down) caused cracking. Crying out for repairs, the bridge was neglected with the NYC fiscal crisis in the 1970s. A major reconstruction finally began in 1982 and will only see completion in 2013 at a cost of $829 million. It is interesting that Moisseiff, known for his work on deflection theory allowing for lighter and more graceful structures, was engineer for the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, consultant for the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the designers for the San Francisco-Oakland Bridge and primary designer for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge which Moisseiff called the "most beautiful bridge in the world." However, the bridge collapsed in a windstorm only four months after opening, leaving a damaged legacy ...


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