Visiting the London Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge in London is one of the most identifiable structures on the globe. The Tower Bridge, which connects The Borough to the center of the Financial District of the City of London, was officially opened in June 1894 by the future king, Edward VII. The original purpose for construction of the bridge was to prevent overcrowding in the eastern parts of London by providing a simple way for citizens to cross the river Thames. The Tower Bridge was the first of several bridges that were designed to allow passage across the river. Upon completion of the bridge more than 450 construction workers had worked with the 11,000 tons of steel needed to build the 260 meter long bridge. Five different contractors were in charge of the foundations, hydraulics, and general construction and the project lasted eight years prior to completion.

The London Tower Bridge was not originally given its name because of the two towers that have made the bridge famous, but rather due to its location. The towers were added on after initial construction was underway and required that construction crews work with over 70,000 tons of additional concrete. In today’s value of money the construction of the bridge would cost over 100 million pounds.

London Tower Bridge is the only bridge in all of London that allows ships to pass underneath it because its bascules can open up. The area between the two towers is split into two leaves and each can be lifted upwards to an angle greater than 80 degrees. The leaves are lifted roughly one thousand times annually and river traffic always takes priority to automobile traffic. Around 45,000 automobiles, cyclists, and pedestrians cross over the bridge daily. During evening and night hours the towers are lit up with a beautiful and impressive atmosphere. The two towers are each over 60 meters in height and the bridge is about 60 meters across at its widest point.

Visitors to London will enjoy taking many photographs of the London Tower Bridge and can even walk inside of the bridge and enjoy a spectacular view of the city from a large walkway that connects the two towers. Within the bridge is also contained the Tower Bridge Exhibition, which provides tourists with interesting facts about the history of the bridge through photos, videos, audio, and other forms of media. Tours of the Bridge and its towers are also available to visitors throughout the year and can be scheduled in advance. The tours are designed to be entertaining for adults and children of all ages.

The Tower Bridge was originally driven by a hydraulics system that relied on steam to power the large engines. Today, the Bridge still relies on hydraulics to power its motion but power is supplied through oil and electricity rather than steam. The original engines and machinery are still contained within the Bridge but have become the central part of the museum.

Creative Commons License Photo credit: bitter like a coffee

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