Tag Archives: Bridges

Longer Isn’t Always Better: Introducing the Best Bridges Meta-Lists

I’ve created two new meta-lists of the best bridges in the world.  To do this, I collected over 20 lists that I found on the Internet of the best, greatest, most amazing, most spectacular and most famous bridges in the world and combined them into two meta-lists: one organized by rank (that is, with the bridges on the most lists at the top) and one organized chronologically.  I’ve included information about the bridges along with lots of photographs. Some of these bridges have to be seen to be believed!

Click on the links below to go directly to the lists:

Best Bridges of All Time: Ranked
Best Bridges of All Time: Chronological

Some of these bridges also appear on the Best Architecture Lists and the Best Works of Civil Engineering lists, and those lists contain some bridges that are not on the Best Bridges lists. Click on the links below to go to the other lists:

Best Architecture of All Time: Ranked
Best Architecture of All Time: Chronological
Best Works of Civil Engineering
Best Works of Civil Engineering: Chronological

I didn’t included “highest”, “longest” and other superlatives in the descriptions of the bridges for a number of reasons.  For one thing, new record-breaking bridges are always being built, so these designations tend to be short-lived.  In addition, I think emphasizing which bridge is the longest, tallest, highest, etc. can take away from the achievement that each bridge represents. After all, the third, fourth or fifth longest (or tallest) bridges may be as impressive and even more stunning than numbers one or two.  Finally, dimensions alone do not define every bridge; many of the bridges that made the list are there because they are beautiful, dramatic or unusual in some way.  Some are there because of how scary they look.  To me, that’s as good a reason as any to name something one of the “best” bridges of all time.

For those who crave to know the biggest, longest, here is an (uncut) list of some of the current record holders:

  1. Longest bridge: Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge (China, 2011) 102.4 miles
  2. Longest road bridge: Bang Na Expressway (Thailand, 2000) 33.52 miles
  3. Longest bridge over water (aggregate): Jiaozhou Bay Bridge (China, 2011) 25.84 miles
  4. Longest bridge over water (continuous): Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (US, 1969) 23.89 miles
  5. Longest bridge in US: Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (Louisiana, 1969) 23.89 miles
  6. Longest bridge in Latin America: Rio-Niterói Bridge (Brazil, 1974) 8.26 miles
  7. Longest bridge in Europe: Vasco da Gama Bridge (Portugal, 1998) 7.67 miles
  8. Longest wooden bridge: Lake Pontchartrain Railroad Trestle, Louisiana (US, 1883) 5.82 miles
  9. Longest suspension bridge: Akashi Kaikyo Bridge (Japan, 1998) main span: 6,532 ft.
  10. Longest suspension bridge in Europe: Great Belt Bridge (Denmark, 1998) main span: 5,328 ft.
  11. Longest suspension bridge in US: Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (New York, 1964) main span: 4,259.84 ft.
  12. Longest suspension bridge in Latin America: Angostura Bridge (Venezuela, 1967) main span: 2,336 ft.
  13. Longest stone bridge: Rockville Bridge, Marysville, Pennsylvania (US, 1902) 3,820 ft.
  14. Longest cantilever bridge: Quebec Bridge (Canada, 1917) 3,239 ft.
  15. Longest swing bridge: El Ferdan Railway Bridge (Egypt, 2001) 2,100 ft.
  16. Longest pedestrian suspension bridge: Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge (Switzerland, 2017) 1,620.72 ft.
  17. Longest transporter bridge: Newport Transporter Bridge (Wales, UK, 1906) 594 ft.
  18. Longest lift bridge: Railway bridge over Arthur Kill Channel, NJ/Staten Island, NY (US, 1959) moveable section: 558 ft.
  19. Longest plastic bridge: Bridge in Aberfeldy Golf Club (England, UK, ) 370.75 ft.
  20. Highest bridge:* Duge Bridge (China, 2016) clearance: 1,854 ft. above Beipan River
  21. Highest bridge in Latin America: Baluarte Bridge (Mexico, 2013) clearance: 1,710 ft. above Baluarte River
  22. Highest bridge in US: Royal Gorge Bridge (Colorado, 1929) clearance: 955 ft. above Arkansas River
  23. Highest bridge in Europe: Millau Viaduct (France, 2004) clearance: 886 ft. over Tarn River Valley
  24. Tallest bridge:* Millau Viaduct (France, 2004) 1,125 ft.
  25. Tallest bridge in Asia: Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge (Turkey, 2016) 1,056 ft.
  26. Tallest bridge in Latin America: Mezcala Bridge (Mexico, 1993) 774 ft.
  27. Tallest bridge in US: Golden Gate Bridge (California, 1937) 746 ft.
  28. Oldest bridge (still in use): Stone arch bridge over Meles River in Izmir, Turkey (c. 850 BCE)
  29. Oldest bridge in Europe (still in use): Stone arch bridge over Erasinos River near Xirokambi, Laconia, Greece (c. 150 BCE)
  30. Oldest bridge in US (still in use): Frankford Avenue Bridge over Pennypack Creek in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1697)

* Q. What is the difference between “Highest” bridge and “Tallest” bridge?
A.  “Highest” measures the distance (clearance) between the deck of the bridge and the ground (or body of water) below.  “Tallest” measures the height of the physical structure of the bridge from its highest to lowest point.

You can find out more about the bridges in bold type on the new lists. Click on the links below:

Best Bridges of All Time – Ranked
Best Bridges of All Time – Chronological

More Lists About Buildings and Food (Actually, Just Buildings)

When I was compiling the “Best Works of Art” lists a few weeks ago, I noticed every once in a while that there would be a building on someone’s list.  I was focused on painting and sculpture, so I mostly ignored these references to architecture.  Until now.

In some ways, architecture is the crowning achievement of the visual arts, in that it incorporates aspects of painting and sculpture, but within the overall context of designed structure in space, so I decided that architecture needed some lists of its own.  As I collected over 20 lists of “Best Buildings” and “Best Architecture”, I found that most of the items on the lists met my common sense notion of architecture: Buildings that people use to live, work, play, worship and learn in.  But it didn’t take long for me to realize that the scope of architecture went beyond my original conception.  The first obvious exception was bridges – you don’t normally go inside them, like buildings – you travel over them.  Yet bridges like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Golden Gate and the Millau Viaduct are some of the most spectacular architectural achievements of the modern era.  But the listers also included the Statue of Liberty and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, which I thought of as giant sculptures (in fact, the Statue of Liberty is on my paintings and sculptures list).  At least those two items meet my first definition because they are hollow and people can go inside them.

So I revised my working definition of architecture to: Man-made structures that people can go inside, underneath or on top of.  But I saw an immediate problem: this definition was too broad: it would make roads, patios, empty refrigerator boxes and even cruise ships and automobiles into architecture.  Even more perplexing were two items that turned up on multiple “Best Architecture” lists that didn’t seem to fit any reasonable definition I could come up with: the Great Sphinx of Giza and the giant statues (called “moai”) of Easter Island. You can’t go inside them (unlike the nearby pyramids, for example); you can’t go underneath them and, unlike bridges, they are not designed for people to travel over them.

So I turned to my Internet resources.  The online Free Dictionary defines architecture, in part, as: (1) The art and science of designing and erecting buildings; (2) Buildings and other large structures.  The first definition is problematic because it excludes not only the Sphinx and the Moai, but also bridges, which are not normally thought of as buildings.  But the second definition, while simple, seems to do the trick, especially when we recognize that the word ‘structure’ is related to ‘construct’, which implies a controlling mind and would exclude natural arches or rock formations.  One hitch: my new working definition of architecture would include large structures made by animals (non-human animals) – giant termite mounds, for example – but that’s a list for another day.

Here they are,, the new “Best Architecture” lists – with lots of pictures:

Best Architecture of All Time – The Critics’ Picks (in rank order – best buildings first)
Best Architecture of All Time – Chronological (from Stonehenge 2000 BCE to Dubai 2010)