Sunday, March 17, 2013

Weekly MUSE: Suspension Bridges

The Golden Gate Bridge
After visiting San Francisco this weekend, I was reminded that our country has some stunning examples of suspension bridges.

The Golden Gate Bridge has become the symbol of San Francisco. The Brooklyn Bridge is a New York City icon, and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is simply notorious.

Creative Writers, we have found another MUSE: SUSPENSION BRIDGES!

So, what is a suspension bridge?

A suspension bridge is named for the cables that “suspend” from the bridge’s towers to the bridge’s deck. The weight of the deck is supported from the suspension cables above rather than a structure built from below the deck.

The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge that spans the entrance of the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. It took just over four years to build the Golden Gate Bridge. Building began on January 5, 1933, and the bridge opened on May 28, 1937. At the time, this bridge was the largest suspension bridge in the world.

The color of the Golden Gate Bridge is actually International Orange. The bridge is not called the Golden Gate Bridge because of its color. Its namesake is actually the body of water beneath it, which is called the Golden Gate.

The Golden Gate Bridge is constantly being repainted. The paint protects the steel from being damaged from the salty air. The bridge has a team of nearly fifty ironworkers and painters who handle the daily maintenance of the bridge.

The Brooklyn Bridge
Photo by: Sue Waters
Another famous suspension bridge in the United States is The Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. This bridge spans across New York’s East River, connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883. And it was also the largest suspension bridge of its time. The main difference between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge is the building material. While the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge are made of steel, the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge are made of stone.

In order to show the public that the Brooklyn Bridge was safe to cross, P.T. Barnum, a famous showman of the time, had 21 of his elephants parade across the bridge. What a sight!

The Tacoma Narrows Bridge
Photo by: Mic Watson
Much closer to home is the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, a set of twin bridges that spans the Tacoma Narrows strait of Puget Sound. Neither of the bridges you see today are the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The original bridge was nicknamed “Galloping Gurtie” because it rippled in the wind. This design flaw would eventually cause the bridge to collapse.

Here is some of the original footage of the collapsing bridge. Only one car went down with the bridge. Take a look at the video below.

Amazing, huh?

The Aurora Bridge
Legend has it that a gigantic Pacific octopus lives under the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. At any time it could reach one of its arms out of the water and snag a car from above. How creepy is that? I think somebody is using their imagination, don’t you?

Another bridge close to home has an occupant who lives underneath. While the Aurora Bridge in Seattle is not a suspension bridge, it has become quite famous for the troll who lives under it. Looks like this fellow has snagged a car from above, too!

The Freemont Troll under the Aurora Bridge in Seattle
Photo by: Tony Kent
With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these WHAT IF questions will help you get started.

WHAT IF an a gigantic octopus really DID live under the Tacoma Narrows Bridge? What would it want more than anything in the world?

WHAT IF the Golden Gate Bridge was made of solid GOLD?

WHAT IF the Brooklyn Bridge suddenly vanished, and it was your main character’s job to figure out how it simply disappeared? Did somebody steal it? Where did it go?

The possibilities are endless, and please leave your own what if questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.

So, grab a cup of hot cocoa, a pencil and a piece of paper, and let’s begin. With your imagination, we can go anywhere. I look forward to seeing where you take us.

With Imagination,

Professor Watermelon

The word of the day is “notorious”. Here is the definition: widely and unfavorably known.

1 comment:

  1. what if bridges had car washes?
    what if bridges would fall each time 1 million pounds rode on it?
    what if bridges were rare?
    what if bridges were only green?
    what if bridges turned into dogs?
    what if bridges barked?
    what if bridges could turn into boats?
    what if bridges were make belief?
    what if bridges could make anyone fly?
    what if each bridge had a troll?
    what if bridges grew bigger?
    what if bridges weren't strong?
    what if bridges loved sports?
    what if bridges ate cars?
    what if bridges smiled?
    what if bridges float in the air?
    what if bridges knew how to sew?
    what if bridges watches movies?
    what if bridges hated traffic?