On a recent trip to London, Karen, the kids, and I visited Tower Bridge. It took eight years, starting in 1886, to build this double-bascule bridge:
The two towers and the upper walkways contain an exhibit about the history and construction of the bridge. The walkways also provide great views of London:
The pointy building on the left is the Shard, Europe’s tallest building. The ship in the center is HMS Belfast.
From inside the south tower, a non-movable suspension portion of Tower Bridge is seen:
Here is a detail shot showing some of the original workings of the bridge:
And this is part of one of the old steam engines that used to open the bridge, the origin of steampunk perhaps?
Now the whole process of opening and closing the draws is computerized, and we were lucky to be in London on a day when the bridge was opened. First the Olympic rings were raised:
Then the roadway:
A vessel requiring an opening of the bridge must request it 24 hours in advance. In the picture above, the bow of a Thames sailing barge is just sneaking into the frame on the right. Tower Bridge opens about 1000 times per year.
Finally, the bridge is open and the barge passes through:
(For one more view of Tower Bridge, this time with the Paralympic logo, go here.)