Iron suspension bridges allowed for the bridging of great distances.
One of the first suspension bridges in modern history, the one over the Menai Strait in Wales, was built on this day in 1826. The bridge still exists today, and is a candidate for the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Wrought iron chain cables, each made of 935 iron bars and weighing around 121 tons, were suspended from stone towers, and the bridge’s traffic lane was located above them.
Iron suspension bridges allowed for the bridging of great distances; the bridge over the Menai Strait is 176 meters at its longest span. The metal parts of the bridge had to be covered in special paint in order to prevent rusting. The wrought iron was later replaced with steel.
In order to better illustrate the technologically advanced nature of the bridge in its time, let us mention that Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Thomas Jefferson were still alive the year it was opened (1826). Indeed, so was Napoleon Bonaparte.
The well-known suspension bridge in Budapest (Széchenyi lánchíd) was built only 23 years after the bridge over the Menai Strait, while the famous Brooklyn Bridge was built in 1883 – 57 years after the bridge over the Menai Strait.