Here at Virgin Atlantic, we’re proud to fly to some of the world’s most exciting cities, all of which have undergone massive change and rapid growth over the past century. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the huge bridge-building projects that have united disparate communities over seas or rivers thought previously uncrossable, and so today we’re honouring a few of the (less obvious) engineering achievements across our route map…
San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge
San Francisco’s other beautiful bridge is actually a pair of double decker suspension spans connected in the middle by the Yerba Buena Island tunnel. Completed in 1936, it opened six months earlier than the Golden Gate Bridge. Close to 280,000 vehicles cross it every day.
Queensboro Bridge, New York City
The Queensboro Bridge opened in 1909, and by connecting Queens to Manhattan, it transformed the largely rural community into a borough of more than two million souls by the 1950s. Thanks to Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s famous 1966 song, the bridge is now known everywhere as the 59th Street Bridge, and those of a certain age may remember it best from the opening credits of 1970s US comedy Taxi.
Hoover Dam Bypass, near Las Vegas
The Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is its proper name, but that’s a bit of a mouthful so we’ll stick to the Hoover Dam Bypass, although strictly speaking that refers to the entire bypass project, a massive construction effort intended to increase security and relieve traffic problems at the dam itself. The most recently built bridge in our list only opened last October and jumped straight into the record books for having the longest concrete arch in the Western Hemisphere.
Michigan Avenue Bridge, Chicago
From north to south across the Chicago River, the Michigan Avenue Bridge connects the downtown Loop to the Magnificent Mile, and is a famous example of a bascule or drawbridge, raised here twice a week in autumn and spring. Housed within the southwestern bridge tower is the tiny McCormick Bridge House & River Museum – time your visit right and you’ll be able to see the gears in operation as the bridge is lifted and lowered.
Nanpu Bridge, Shanghai
The two-and-a-half circle spiral approach to Nanpu Bridge is considered to be something of an engineering wonder in the world of bridge construction, and the span itself was the longest cable-stayed bridge in China when it was completed in 1991. The bridge connects the older Puxi district to the skyscraper-filled financial and commercial hub of Pudong, and was an important step in the area’s accelerated development over the past 20 years.
Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo
Rainbow Bridge is a suspension bridge across the northern part of Tokyo Bay, and links the Odaiba Waterfront to the Shibaura Wharf. It’s possible to take an elevator up to the pedestrian walkways, which are on the lower level of the bridge, from where there are some remarkable views of the city. From the north side, Tokyo harbour, many skyscrapers and the Tokyo Tower can be seen, and from the south – on a clear day – Mount Fuji.
Tsing Ma Bridge, Hong Kong
Tsing Ma is the longest suspension bridge in the world to carry both road and rail traffic. Named for the islands on either side (Tsing Yi and Ma Wan), the bridge has become a hugely popular landmark and tourist attraction in Hong Kong. Photographers, especially, like to flock to nearby Ting Kau’s Exhibition Centre’s viewing platform to snap its twinkly lights at night.
Anzac Bridge, Sydney
Monumental and imposing, Anzac Bridge opened in 1995 and replaced the steel Glebe Island bridge which had been in operation since the turn of the century. Named in honour of the memory of the soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who served in the First World War, it spans Johnstons Bay between Pyrmont and Glebe Island, part of the suburb of Rozelle in the Inner West of Sydney.