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Millenium Bridge

Millenium Bridge (111)

The Millenium Bridge is one of those works that leaves no one indifferent. For starters it has the merit of being the first bridge built over the Thames since the Tower Bridge, which opened in 1894. Additionally, it is the only one intended exclusively for pedestrian traffic. 

This curious 320-metre-long bridge was opened on the 10th of June, 2000, and just in two days it was crossed by so many people that it was closed to the public on the 12th. Why? Because the resulting swing was greater than expected. Much greater. The fact is that during the first weekend the staggering number of 100,000 pedestrians crossed the bridge. The designers didn't expect anything like that number of people and their initial calculations were way off the mark.

The bridge was finally reopened to the public on the 22nd of February. To achieve this a further 5 million pound investment was required in order to install a series of shock absorbers below the deck. The result has been very effective and has not affected the original aesthetics of the work.

The initial concept was developed by Foster and Partners in collaboration with sculptor Sir Anthony Caro and the engineering firm Arup. The idea was to create a ribbon of steel over the river, as if man's intervention was hardly noticeable. 

The bridge employed the latest technological advances. It is a very shallow suspension bridge. Approximately six times shallower than a conventional suspension bridge. The principal materials used in the construction are concrete, steel and aluminium. Over two steel support platforms three sections were assembled of 81, 144 and 108 metres respectively, running from north to south. The 4-metre-wide aluminium deck is flanked by steel railings. 

The four cables on each side of the deck are anchored to two Y-shaped pillars that are sunk into the riverbed. The deck passes between these cables and is supported by transverse steel arms at intervals of 8 m that support the cables on each side.

This innovative structure means that the cables never rise more than 2.3 m above the deck, allowing pedestrians uninterrupted panoramic views.

The eight steel cables that hold the bridge in suspension are tensioned to withstand 2000 tons, roughly the equivalent of 5000 people crossing the bridge at the same time.

While in daytime the bridge resembles a silver steel tape, at night photoelectric cells light up and the bridge is transformed into a beam of light crossing the river.

As a curiosity we can add that the bridge has been closed on occasion due to gale-force winds. For example, during the terrible storm that occurred on the 18th of January, 2007, when it was closed in order to prevent some intrepid pedestrian flying into the waters of the Thames.

If you're a fan of the saga of the world's most famous wizard you will no doubt remember the scene in Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince in which the Millennium Bridge is completely demolished by Death Eaters. Luckily fiction has not become a reality and you can still enjoy this wonderful bridge and the views offered by it.

Would you like to take home the best snapshot of St. Paul's Cathedral? Follow these easy steps and you will come away with a veritable postcard. Go over the bridge to the south bank of the Thames, so the cathedral is directly opposite you, and stand right at the point where the bridge divides into two footbridges. Stand in the middle, frame the cathedral well and you've got it. The result should be a close-up of the cathedral with the Millennium Bridge at its feet, almost like a path directly to its main entrance. Now send it to all your friends!

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