World's Top 10 Bridges
We've traveled from Europe to the Far East and from North America to Australia to bring you some of the most amazing bridges ever built. Take a tour through our countdown of ancient spans, iconic structures and bridges with unique and interesting features.
10. London Bridge
Lake Havasu, Arizona
This is the bridge that made the song "London Bridge is Falling Down" popular. Built in the 1820s over the River Thames, London Bridge grew too small over hundreds of years to accommodate the traffic of a metropolitan city. It was originally built for walking and traveling by horse and buggy. So, in the 1960s, London put the bridge up for auction. It was bought for $2.5 million in 1968 by Robert McCulloch, the founder of Lake Havasu City. The bridge took 3 years to make its way, piece by piece, to Arizona, but today, it's paid off. London Bridge brings in over 100,000 tourists to Lake Havasu every year. As a result, a quaint village has emerged near the bridge offering tourists a small glimpse into English life.
9. Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge
Head into Beantown and you won't likely miss this $100 million project called the Zakim Bridge. This behemoth stretches over Boston's Charles River and spans over 1400 feet across. In fact, it's the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world and boasts a whopping 10 lanes for traffic.
8. Sydney Harbor Bridge
Nicknamed the "coat hanger," this large gray structure took over five years to complete during the Great Depression. Constructed of more than 53,000 tons of steel, it sits 194 feet above the harbor of Australia's capital. Locals call it the "coat hanger" for good reason. It takes about 72,000 gallons of gray paint every year to keep the bridge looking sharp.
7. Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
Virginia Beach, Virginia
This unique bridge-tunnel hybrid is so extensive, so massive, that it's one of the planet's few structures that can be seen from space. Opened in April 1964, this bridge is supported by more than 5,000 concrete pilings and stretches 17.6 miles across. The bridge took over 30 years to create at a cost of over $450 million. Its purpose was two-fold. It was built as a short-cut for residents traveling to and from Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, but more importantly, it provided the U.S. Navy with protection. Military leaders worried that during wartime, the bridges could be destroyed by the enemy and block the naval base in Norfolk. Thus, the tunnels were built to help get the Navy to where it needed to be without the support of the bridge.
6. Brooklyn Bridge
New York, New York
For more than a century, the Brooklyn Bridge has been connecting the people of Manhattan with millions of bustling Brooklynites. When the bridge opened in 1883, it was considered a marvel of modern engineering — and still is to this today. Upon completion, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Additionally, the towers were possibly the tallest structures in the city of New York when they were built. But don't let all the engineering talk confuse you with the bridge's real purpose. One walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and you instantly get in the New York state of mind. This architectural wonder shows off the beauty of the city like no other.
5. Firth of Forth Bridge
Built in the 1890s, this bridge was the first to be constructed primarily of steel — about 54,000 tons — and is held together with over 7 million rivets. Notably one of the strongest bridges in the world, the Firth of Forth had to be strong since its primary function was for railroad loading. Today, this Highlands workhorse still supports between 150 and 180 trains each day taking people from Glasgow to Edinburgh and all stops in-between.
4. Tower Bridge
Considered the crown jewel of London tourist attractions, this amazing structure is a must-see if you're in the English capital. Tower Bridge was completed in 1894, at a cost of about 1 million pounds. It is made primarily of Cornish granite and Portland stone. Back in the day, the main London Bridge became too congested for all the trade going on off the shores of London. People tried to cross the River Thames, but traffic was often just too heavy. The decision was to build another bridge to ease the traffic — hence the Tower Bridge was conceived.
3. Sunshine Skyway Bridge
St. Petersburg, Florida
Completed in 1897, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is as long as Mount Everest is high, stretching for 4 miles. It's the 5th-largest cable-stayed bridge in the world and features sunny yellow steel cables. Incorporated into the structure are 36 "dolphins," which were put in place to protect the support columns of the bridge from impacts from boats. In fact, the bridge can withstand a big impact by a boat weighing in at 87,000 tons. That's twice the size of the Titanic!
2. Akashi Kaikyo Bridge
Stretching across the Akashi Strait in the Land of the Rising Sun, the Akashi Kaiyko is a bridge of mind-blowing proportions. Its span stretches an astounding 12,828 feet or nearly 2 1/2 miles. Its towers alone soar 92 stories skyward, almost the height of the Eiffel Tower. And its 6 lanes of freeway make way for 9 million cars each year. It was also built under some of the most severe conditions in the world — including typhoons, tsunamis and over 60 inches of rain a year.
1. Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco, California
First opened in 1937, the unmistakable and majestic bridge is so large that you could park 40 jumbo jets end to end along its length. Spanning the bay separating San Francisco from Marin County, it is the seventh-largest suspension bridge in the world and was built at a then-gold-guzzling cost of $26 million. This art deco structure's roadway rises 220 feet above the harbor below. Its towers, set 4,200 feet apart, are over 2 1/2 times as tall as the U.S. Capitol building, and actually lean outward by 6 inches a piece to create tension on the bridge's 80,000 miles of wire packed into the cables. Keeping the steel safe from the corrosive sea air is enough custom-made International Orange paint to cover the White House 17 1/2 times over. The result is one of America's and the world's most stunning, captivating and instantly recognizable icons.