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Bridges: Introduction to Famous Bridges

Bridges as Symbolic Landmarks

"Imagine a world without bridges.  Imagine London, Paris and Rome without dry paths across the Thames, the Seine and the Tiber.  Imagine Manhattan as an island with no hard crossings of the Hudson and East rivers... Bridges and cities go together, in large part because so many of our greatest cities were founded where they are precisely because of the proximity of water."

"Bridges have become symbols and souls of cities, and each city's bridges have been shaped by, and in turn shape, the character of that city.  It is virtually impossible to go into a souvenir shop in San Francisco without being overwhelmed by images of the Golden Gate Bridge, on everything from T-shirts to spoons."

-from Engineers of Dreams by Henry Petroski

Documentation and Preservation of Historic Bridges

"Few would dream of tearing down the Brooklyn Bridge, the Golden Gate, or a wooden covered span, but the truly outstanding examples of our concrete arches, composite-cast and wrought iron trusses, steel trusses and movable spans are lost every day... We should protect and rehabilitate them as we would Independence Hall, Monticello or Mount Vernon."

- Eric DeLony

Chief of the Historic American Engineering Record (1971-2003)

In 2012, the Linda Hall Library became the fortunate recipient of the Eric N. DeLony Engineering and Bridge Collection.  As a noted historic preservationist with a strong commitment to documenting the history of bridges and other structures, Mr. DeLony has been an avid collector of research material on industrial archeology and significant works in the engineering, construction, architecture and history of bridges.  Ranging in date from the 1800s to the current century, the rarely held materials include his working papers, 90 rare books, hundreds of contemporary books, pamphlets, technical reports and thousands of visual items documenting historic bridges and other important engineering achievements.

Famous Bridges

Reference Associate

Michelle Lahey's picture
Michelle Lahey
800.662.1545 x776

Centuries of Civil Engineering

Knight's American Mechanical Dictionary by Edward Knight. New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1877 [c1876].

View the online exhibition:

Centuries of Civil Engineering

Reference Assistance

Linda Hall Library Research Specialists are available all hours that the Library is open.  9-5 Central Time, Monday through Friday.

Call: 800.662.1545 or 816.926.8701

Email us at  or use the Reference Request Form.

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Guide to Engineering Landmarks

Looking for a short overview of a specific bridge?  Try these entries for a description of the project such as who the builders were, what materials and techniques were employed, when was the bridge completed and why it was designed that way.