Monday, September 7, 2009

Portland's Bridges: St. Johns Bridge (3)

The back spans of St. Johns Bridge are supported on tall reinforced concrete piers in a Gothic arch shape similar to its towers. They also are reminiscent of the towers on the Brooklyn Bridge. Perhaps this shape, originally used for the churches of medieval Europe was consciously chosen by bridge engineers to add importance to their work.

This bridge was named after a saint and the piers are in Cathedral Park, so the church-like architecture could be appropriate. However, I think that bridge engineers like Roebling, Linderthal, Steinman, and McCullough were saying that big bridges were the churches of the industrial age because they best express our yearning for the spiritual. Perhaps there's also a touch of American Transcendentalism in using religious icons for structures that span rivers, canyons, valleys, and other landscapes that suggest a deeper meaning or revelation in nature.
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Portland's Bridges: St. Johns Bridge (3) by Mark Yashinsky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

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