Jackson Street (Green) Bridge update

Courtesy of the State Historical Society of Iowa

Meeting on 26 November; Petition Online

The Des Moines Park Board and the City Council this past Tuesday presented their plan of demolishing the Jackson Street (Green Bridge) at the City Hall, only to be met with stiff opposition from several people speaking in favor of the preservation of the bridge, plus an unknown number of people supporting them. Among those speaking for preserving the bridge is Sarah Oltrogge and the Des Moines Historical Society, who presented council members with a detailed explanation on why and how the Green Bridge, built in 1898 and spanning the Raccoon River, should be preserved. She later presented the City Council with a certificate for their efforts in bringing this issue to the table. Paula Feltner, Rosana Olson and Dr. Michael Eberle were among those who spoke in favor of the bridge being saved, as well as Lloyd Oggle, who suggested that the $750,000 placed aside for demolishing the bridge be delegated to the purpose of restoring the bridge.

Proponents for demolishing the bridge include  City Attorney Rick Clark and Park and Recreation Director Ben Page, along with Mindy Moore, one of the Park Dept.’s staff members. Ben Page was adamant about using funds for preserving the bridge for the money is scarce and is needed for other trail projects. Mindy Moore claimed that a broken pin and the skewing of the bridge makes it unsafe and referenced the I-35W Bridge collapse of 2007 as one of the reasons bridges like the Green Bridge are unsafe, even for pedestrians. This argument was downplayed by those who claimed that it was falsified with no concrete evidence of the Green Bridge actually collapsing because of these claims.  The City Attorney in response to the Park and Recreation Dept.’s proposal, stated “The City Council is under no obligation to follow your (the park & rec board’s) recommendations.” It appears that a big fight is ahead, especially since the City Council will meet again about this bridge on 16 December.

In the meantime, YOU can help. A petition, created by the author of the Chronicles, has been launched through Credo. At the time of this posting, almost 450 people have signed their petition favoring the preservation of the bridge. We need at least 10,000, which include some from the international front. If you are interested, click here to sign. A link to the information about the bridge through the Chronicles is available on the petition to read more about the situation. Furthermore, the Green Page is also on facebook. With almost 900 likes, the goal is to reach 2,500 before the December 16th meeting. Click here and like the bridge to follow up on the developments involving the bridge and see how you can help.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will also keep you posted regarding the latest on the Green Bridge, however, its facebook page will feature examples of bridges similar to the Green Bridge that were restored at a cost that is at the most a third of what the City claims is going to cost: $3.7 million.  If you know of any bridges that were restored at a cost lower than that, like the Chronicles on facebook and post the information for others to see, while at the same time, follow up on the latest news involving historic bridges.

This leads to the question for the forum regarding the blue print of the bridge. Look at the picture more closely and compare this to the photos of the bridge posted on the Green Bridge’s facebook page. What differences can you see, especially with the portal bracings? What are the assumptions can you make from there? Was the bridge so extensively rehabbed that it no longer looks like the one in the blue print, relocated somewhere upstream along the Raccoon River, or did the bridge builder scrap the plans in favor of a truss bridge with simpler portal bracings? What do you think?

 

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The Bridges of Flensburg, Germany

The Bridge of Friendship at the German-Danish border at Wassersleben. Photo taken in 2011

Flensburg, Germany: the city with lots of character. There are many factors that make the city, located at the German-Danish border unique. Given its proximity to the border, the city of 90,000 has the highest number of Danish minority living there with one in four having Danish blood. One will find many Danish stores in the city center and places to the north towards the border. The city prides itself on its local brewery, the Flensburger Beer with its 12 different flavors, which celebrated its 125th birthday this year. The city is the birthplace of rum, as the likes of Pott, Johannsen, Jensen and the like made their mark here, many of which can be seen by touring the Rum-Sugar Mile. One can tour see and learn about the ships that were built in Flensburg, let alone travel the Alexandra, the lone coal-powered ship still in operation. And if one is interested in sports, there’s the handball team, SG Flensburg-Handewitt, one of the premiere powerhouses in the Bundesliga.

And lastly, if one looks even closer, one will find some historic bridges, whose history has long since been hidden from view. In the three times I’ve travelled up there for vacation, one cannot get enough of the city’s history, especially with regards to that aspect. The bridges are scattered throughout the city, spanning all kinds of ravines, and ranging from girders, arches and even a wooden truss. This tour guide takes you to seven bridges that make Flensburg unique in itself. A couple of the bridges have been mentioned in previous articles as there is potential to find substantial information on them. And for some, it required some great effort as the photographer had to battle through a bed of thorns and Rotweiler dogs to get to the bridges. So without further ado, here is the guide to the bridges in the Hölle Nord:

Schleswiger Strasse Brücke- When getting off the train at the station, this is the first bridge you will see. Spanning the railroad line connecting Flensburg with the key points to the north and south, the two-span arch bridge is the second crossing at this site, for the first bridge was built in 1854 when the rail line was first constructed. This bridge was built in 1926 and still retains its original form. One should not be mistaken by the fact that the bridge is brand new. It has shown some wear and tear especially on the inner part of the arches. But overall, the bridge is in excellent shape and is in the running for being declared a historic landmark by the city.

Peelwatt Viaduct- Spanning the railroad line connecting Flensburg and Kiel, this viaduct was built in the early 1900s and is the tallest and longest bridge in Flensburg. The bridge is about 70 meters long and 30 meters deep, carrying Kaiserstrasse. This bridge was difficult to photograph given the number of thorns that had to be dealt with, in addition with being chased by a large Rotweiler owned by a couple having an “open air concert” during my visit in 2011. Unless you’re Nathan Holth and want to deal with scratches and bruises, this stunt should not be attempted. While the bridge had seen its better days because of cracks and falling debris, the structure was recently rehabilitated in a way that a new roadway and railings were built, making it safer for cyclists to cross. Since finishing the work this year, the bridge has been serving as an important link between the campus of the University of Flensburg and the City Center.

Angelburger Brücke- Located at the junction of Angelburger Strasse and the main highway Sudenhofendamm, this bridge has a history in itself that required a lot of researching. When I visited the bridge in 2010, the first impressions that came to mind was that it was just a girder bridge with some ornamental railings resembling an X-shape. Underneath the bridge it features V-laced truss framing that is welded together with gusset plates.  But beyond the engineering facts, if one looks more closely at the abutments, one can see the remnants of a bike shop encased into the bridge’s north abutment because of the old German lettering and a wheel resembling an old-fashioned bike from the 1930s. As the nearest bike shop was up the hill at Hafenmarkt, I sent an inquiry about this bridge after writing a mystery bridge article about it. The response was an interesting one. The shop inside the bridge was indeed a bike shop owned by the Kraft family, which housed not only bikes, but also a repair shop. That remained in business through the 1960s before being replaced with a store that sold used books and comic booklets. It was owned by Emma Voss. Shortly before its abandonment in ca. 2000, a used furniture store took its place. After sustaining damage through broken windows and other forms of vandalism, the windows were bricked shut and a bilboard took their place. However, according to the Petersen Bike Shop, who provided the information, the city is looking at revitalizing the Bahndamm which would include remodelling and reusing this unique store space. Whether and when this will be realized remains to be seen. The bridge was built in 1919 as part of the Bahndamm line connecting the harbor and the train station. It is used next to never these days. But with the revitalization plan on the table, that might change as well.

Bahndamm Bridges:  Located at the junction of the Hofenden and Hafendamm, the 1919 bridges feature not only one, but two bridges built next to each other. Each one carries a rail line just west of the split with each one caressing the harbor. Once used to transport goods from ships to the main land, both lines appear to have been abandoned for a couple decades or have seen little use. The bridges themselves are plate girder with V-laced bracings at the bottom. Its future however seems uncertain as they pose a hazard to vehicular traffic. A traffic light is right after the bridge and the lanes have become a problem, even though the city council has tried to fix it most recently.

Bridge of Friendship:  This bridge is the northernmost structure, as it is located at the German-Danish border at Wassersleben, carrying a bike trail which leads to Kursa. It is also one of the most unique structures in Schleswig-Holstein for it is not only made of lumber, but the truss design is unusual- a Queenpost deck truss but designed in a manner similar to a Queenpost pony truss- the diagonal beams connect the piers with the decking without meeting at the center. Built in 1920 but reconstructed in 2003, the BoF has symbolized the connection and friendship between Germany and Denmark, which has been that way since the 1950s. Yet up until World War II, the relations between the two countries were not always the best, as they fought each other over the lands extending from Schleswig up towards Kolding- the region known as Angeln. Yet the Battle of Dybol (near Sonderburg) in 1864 decided the border in favor of German empire, with Flensburg becoming a border town. With the exception of World War II, when Hitler invaded and conquered Denmark, the border has remained the same. Between 1945 and 1995 Danish and German guards stood at the bridge, ensuring that people can cross without incident, especially as each country had its own set of laws. Yet after the Shengen Agreement, the border bridge became a free crossing and has remained so ever since. One can see the empty border patrol station still in place today when crossing into Denmark.

 

Bahnhofstrasse Brücke:  Located just north of Carlisle Park on the road heading to the train station, this 1919 railroad bridge features similar lattice bracing as the Angelburger Bridge but in the form of a snowflake. The bridge was part of the rail line connecting the train station with the harbor but has been unused for the most part for a couple decades.

 

Tarup Railroad Bridge:  While this bridge may look like a typical deck plate girder, this 1903 bridge is located in the rural village located 8 km east of Flensburg. Interesting to note that there is a restaurant located 300 meters away from the bridge with the date saying that the railroad was in service from 1903 to 2000. Yet the information seems to be mistaken, for the bridge carries a rail line between Flensburg and Kiel, with trains running on the hour. It is possible that the train station in Tarup was discontinued in 2000 forcing many to board at either Flensburg or Husby, but more research is needed to prove that.

 

Lautrupsbachtal Viaduct:  The last bridge on this tour is this one. Built in 2009, the bridge spans the Lautrup Creek and several other smaller streets and a bike trail in the village of Lautrup in the eastern part of Flensburg. Despite a debate about the construction of the bridge, the it has served as a blessing, carrying traffic around the eastern end of the city, reducing the congestion, which is still a recurring problem in the city center. The bridge is the longest, measuring 500 meters, and presenting a curve. The railings also serve as a noise barrier- 10 meters tall, resembling the Ecu Viaduct in Geneva, Switzerland. A video of the crossing is presented here.

There are some more bridges that are worth visiting but could not be put on this page. Yet another bridge photographer, Fritz Wissemborski also took a tour through Flensburg in 2003 and has a set of pictures you can view here. It pretty much sums up how important the bridges were to the city of Flensburg, for it contributed to the development of its infrastructure over the years. And because talks are underway to convert the former rail line to a bike trail connecting the harbor with the train station, one will have an opportunity to see these bridges reused again, as more and more people will take to the bikes and leave their cars in the garage. This way people will know more about these structures and come to appreciate them even more than they did in the past, providing another reason to visit Flensburg apart from the rum, beer, boating and handball.

Google Map:  A map with the location of Flensburg’s bridges can be found by clicking on the link below:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zcTmPZtqubT0.kLBfVOG_8Xr8

Petit Jean Bridge receives new home- for the third time!

The Petit Jean Bridge in front of Danville City Hall. Photos courtesy of J. Randall Houp

Yell County, Arkansas. Home of Mattie Ross. And Rooster Cogburn, who saved her life. There are some things about the county that make the people become that of true grit: hard working and honest, and valuing their history.  The Danville-Mickles Bowstring Arch Bridge is one of those bridges that is characteristic of the historic places that people work hard to preserve for it has a unique history that belongs to the county, especially when an event is tied to the bridge’s story. The bridge was built by the King Bridge Company in 1880, contracting to representative S.A. Oliver to build the 100-foot long bridge over the Petit Jean River at Danville at a cost of $3100. The bridge remained in service until its relocation to Mickles in 1922 (which included being disassembled and being stored two years beforehand.)

At each of the two sites, a tragedy occurred, which scarred the county and its bridge in terms of history. In June 1883 a mob lynched John H. Coker and Dr. John Flood after they (together with Rial Blocher) conspired to allow Jack and Bud Daniel to escape from the local jail located next to the bridge in Danville. Blocher’s life would be spared, only to escape from jail in September and disappear forever. Both Blocher and the Daniel Brothers were wanted for the murder of Bill Potter. At its new home in Mickles, a tragedy occurred on the bridge in June 1951, when Charles Osburn fell through the bridge with his tractor, killing him instantly and injuring two others that were with him. He was only two days shy of his 16th birthday. This is in connection with the five floods between 1904 and 2008 which spared the bridge.

In 2006, a historic survey was written and submitted to the state historic preservation office, which was later forwarded to the National Park Service, who listed the bridge on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.  After years of fundraising and pursuing grants and support from the private and public sectors, the days of the Petit Jean Bridge spanning the same river for 133 years at two locations are officially numbered.

On 13 October, the bridge was taken off the banks of the river, loaded onto a semi-truck and hauled back to Danville to be set on new concrete piers. The process of bringing the bridge back home to Danville took only 30 minutes. Part 3 of the bridge’s life is about to start. Using the bridge as a tourist attraction, the bridge will be spanning the green lawn of the town’s city hall, with bike trails encircling and even crossing it, with plans to have the structure ready for use next year. For the bridge, it has already accomplished two feats in its extended lifespan: it is the second oldest bridge left in Arkansas and is the only bridge in the state to have three different homes. For the latter, it is rare to see a bridge be relocated more than once because of the stresses on the superstructure caused by providing restraints on it, being lifted by crane and even the travel. While such multiple relocation attempts have failed with other historic bridges, like the Ellingson Bridge in Allamakee County, Iowa, the Petit Jean Bridge was one of the rare occurances where relocation for the third time was not a problem.

We’ve seen many bowstring arch bridges being the center of attraction for parks and bike trails, used as exhibits or picnic areas. The Petit Jean Bridge has now joined the ranks, while at the same time, its history will be shared with others who may not have known about it until now. As Yell County has numerous historic bridges still in use or reused for recreational purposes, it is not surprising that people take their historic artefacts seriously. And if that is not enough, it has garnered one more fame- apart from that of True Grit: its nomination for the 2013 Ammann Awards for Bridge of the Year and Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge. Whether it wins in one or both categories depend on your vote in December.

 

The Author wishes to thank J. Randall Houp for providing information about the bridge via mail and allowing use of the photos. More photos and facts about the bridge can also be found here

The Bridges of Halle (Saale), Germany

Berliner Brücke in Halle (Saale) Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/de/2/23/Berliner-Bruecke-Halle.jpg

Halle (Saale)- the birthplace of George Friedrich Handel. The second largest city in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt and representing the second half of the metropolis Leipzig-Halle, which has 100,000 of the metro’s 600,000 inhabitants as well as one of the most renowned universities in Germany. Yet when you get off the train in Halle, you may be turned off by the ugly high-rise buildings that date back to the days of the German Democratic Republic, a communist state that existed until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and German Reunification in 1990. Yet when you walk further towards the City Center, you will see another face of Halle that will sweep you off your feet: architecture dating to the Baroque Period, a statue of Handel overlooking the Cathedral and the Town Square, and further towards the Saale River, there’s the Giebichenstein Castle and the Halle Zoo, one of the largest zoos in the eastern half of Germany (Neuenbundesländer).

Surprisingly, if you are a pontist, you will be surprised to find that Halle has a wide selection of historic bridges that exist along the Saale River, its tributaries and to the south, the White Elster River, which meanders through Leipzig enroute to the Vogtland region in Thuringia and Saxony. There are 131 bridges in and around Halle; 14 of which are declared historically significant and protected by state preservation laws.  It is very rare to find historic bridges of at least four different types, or until recently have more than one cantilever truss spans, dating back to the 1880s. And in terms of German history, many of these bridges survived the test of time, including World War II, in contrast to the majority of cities and regions, whose bridges were severely damaged or destroyed through air raids and attempts by the Nazis to fend off advancing Allied troops. This plus the history that is still being sought on these bridges is what makes the bridges of the City of Salt unique.

This article will take you on a tour of the bridges that you should see, when spending a day in Halle. This includes a pair of bridges that no longer exist but are still part of the memories of the Hallenser people that still live there as well as those who were born there but have long since moved away for better possibilities. So without further ado, here is a small guide of the Bridges of Halle, keeping in mind that there are links available that will bring you to the photos and info on the bridge:

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Schafbrücke: 

This bridge, built in 1733, is the last crossing along the White Elster before it empties into the Saale River in the Hallense suburb of Böllberg. It used to serve a main trading route between Merseberg and Magdeburg before it lost its importance because of the railroads. Today, the stone and concrete arch bridge serves the White Elster bike trail between Halle and Leipzig. Yet the bridge has seen its better days as the arches have deteriorated to a point where reconstruction is badly needed in order to avoid the structure to collapse.

Halle-Neustadt Railroad Bridge: Spanning the Saale River in the southwest end of Halle, this eight-span stone arch bridge is one of the longest of its kind in the city, as well as the oldest. Most likely dating back to the late 1800s, this bridge used to serve an InterCity train line connecting the city with Kassel and Cologne. Thanks to privatization, combined with the realignment of long-distance rail lines, the bridge now serves regional services to Sangerhausen, Halberstadt and Nordhausen, enroute to its original destination. The bridge is one of the hardest to reach for a photographer needs to fight trees, thorns and tall grass before reaching the east bank and the bridge itself.

ICE Saale-Elster Viaduct:  With a total length of 8.5 kilometers plus two more for a branch to Halle, the ICE Saale-Elster Viaduct currently holds the title of being the longest railway viaduct in Germany. Completed in 2013, the viaduct features concrete box girder spans crossing the two rivers and swamp areas nearby but also features a steel through arch span that spans the branch that breaks off the main route to Halle. Although it passes the village of Schkopau (and with that a 1936 railroad truss bridge spanning the Saale just a kilometer south of the bridge), the viaduct is part of the ICE line connecting Erfurt and Leipzig, which since its opening in December 2015, has cut down the travel time by 60% to only 30 minutes between the two cities. The record will remain until 2017 when another viaduct located south of Erfurt will open, which will be longer than this one.

Rabeninselbrücke: 

This is the second youngest bridge in the city and the youngest to span the Saale. This bridge spans the Saale’s main river at the entrance to Rabeninsel (Raven’s Island) and features a cable-stayed bridge, whose pylon angles towards Böllberg Weg and the cables support the roadway. The roadway resembles a raindrop as it encircles the pylon. Built in 2000, the bridge measures 85 meters long and is 20 meters tall, easily seen from the main highway a kilometer away.

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Hafenbahnbrücke: 

A few months ago, the Chronicles did a segment on this mystery bridge, spanning the Saale River at the confluence of the Elisabeth Saale and Middle Saale Rivers, west of Böllberg Weg. This bridge was built in 1884 and used to serve a rail line connecting the city with Magdeburg (north) and Merseburg (south) for over 80 years. When the line was abandoned in the 1970s, the lenticular through truss span, measured at 40 meters in length, was rehabilitated and converted into a bike and pedestrian crossing, which still serves its function today. The bridge also has a dark side- and a memorial plaque is placed on the truss as a marker of this tragedy. In the night of 13-14 March, 1919, Karl Meseberg, who was a revolutionary leader during World War I, was murdered on the bridge with his body landing in the Saale. It was found five days later. While the bridge shows its bright side during the day, at dusk, one can feel the presence of a ghost at the bridge, keeping people away from the crossing. This may be in connection with this unfortunate event, but more info in the form of eyewitnesses and evidence is needed to confirm the claims of a ghost at the bridge.  If you look to the south of the bridge, you will find a blue tied-arch bridge about 100 meters away. That bridge was built in 2000 and carry water lines connecting the southern and western parts of the city.

Genzmer Bridge: 

This steel through arch bridge is located over the Saale River at William Jost Strasse north of the Hafenbahnbrücke. Built in 1912, the grey-colored span is similar to the Hollernzollern Bridge in Cologne in terms of the design of the bridge, but the portal bracing resemble a bridge located west of Steinbrücke in neighboring Magdeburg. But when passing underneath the bridge, one will see the stone arched approach spans carrying the emblem of Halle on there- an impressive construction by the builder of the bridge, whoever it was.

Mansfeld Bridge:

Spanning the Saale River at the Mansfelder Strasse, there are three crossings located within 60 meters of each other. The oldest span is a polygonal Warren pony truss with riveted connections that used to serve streetcar and vehicular traffic. Yet because of its structural obliqueness- too narrow and too light to support traffic- a vehicular crossing to the north was built in the early 1990s, which was followed by a separate streetcar crossing to the south a decade later. The truss span was later converted to pedestrian use by strenthening the trusses and adding a concrete and brick deck. An economic and interesting way to preserve a piece of history.

Peissnitz Bridge:

Apart from the Hafenbahn, Giebichenstein, and Mühlentor Bridges, the Peissnitz Bridge is one of the crown jewels as far as Halle’s bridges are concerned. Spanning the Saale River at Peissnitz Island, carrying the street carrying the same name, the bridge is one of the most ornamental of bridges, for the 1898 structure features a cantilever Pratt truss design, with ornamental towers supporting street lights, and red quarry stone arch approach spans, presenting its grey and red colors which are typical colors of the city. When built in 1898, the bridge was the only toll bridge in the city, as money was collected for people wanting to cross the bridge and enter Peissnitz Island. This was discontinued in 1921 and the bridge has operated as a free bridge ever since. The bridge is 103 meters long, 70 meters of which represent the main span. Despite sustaining damage during World War II, it was rebuilt in 1946 and was eventually converted to a pedestrian and bike crossing, which remains that way to this day.  The Peissnitz Bridge, located on the east end, is one of three bridges that provide access to the island, along with Schwanenbrücke and another bridge at the west end. The latter, built in the 1900s, was recently replaced with a steel truss bridge in 2013.

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Schwanenbrücke: Located at Weinberg at the northwest end of Peissnitz Island, this 1893 bridge is one of the oldest standing in Halle. The structure features a wire suspension span with eyebar connections found at the steel towers. Its roadway features a Town Lattice truss design railing which together with the suspenders, support the wooden decking. The bridge was destroyed during World War II but was later rebuilt in 1946. It was renovated in 1992, which includes dismantling, sandblasting and improving the steel parts, and reerecting the span on new abutments made of brick and concrete. The abutments feature the name Schwanenbrücke on there. The bridge is open to cyclists and pedestrians wishing to enter the island from the northwest. The bridge is next to the island park railway station, which provides service to places on the island.

Steinmühlenbrücke:  

Spanning the Mühlgraben at Peissnitzstrasse, this 1912 closed spandrel arch bridge has some unique features making a stop a necessity. Like the Pfälzer Bridge, the railings feature a Howe truss  in an Art Deco design, all in concrete. Two pairs of cast iron lanterns, encased in concrete, decorated with gargoyles, can be found on each end of the 20 meter long span, which provides the lone access to Peissnitz Island and park area to the west, let alone the Peissnitz Bridge itself. The bridge was named after a water mill, located nearby that was built in the late 1800s and was made of stone. That mill still exists today.

 Krollwitzer Brücke (aka Giebichensteinbrücke): 

This bridge and neighboring Giebichenstein Castle on the lime cliffs of the Saale River go together like bread and butter. The three-span concrete arch bridge is the fourth crossing at this site, being built in 1928 replacing a steel Parker through truss bridge, whose predecessors included a pontoon bridge, ferry and a covered bridge. The bridge is 261 meters long, 60 of which consist of the largest arch span. The bridge features two sculptures on the south side facing neighboring Peissnitz Bridge, resembling cattle- making the bridge a real treat to see. The bridge was renovated in 1995 and again in 2011, but continues to serve vehicular and street car traffic connecting the city center with the western suburb of Krollwitz.

Pfälzerbrücke:

Like the Peissnitz Bridge, the Mühlentor Bridge, spanning Mühlgraben-a tributary of the Saale- at Neuwerk in the northern end of the city, is the most ornamental bridge but in the form of an arch bridge. Art Deco art on the bridge’s railing and four lamp posts can be seen when crossing the 1912 span by car or bike. The railings resemble a Howe truss made of concrete, a rarity one can see these days.

Burgbrücke: 

Located at the Robert Franz Ring, this Mühlengraben crossing is one of the newest bridges along this route. Little has been written about this bridge except for the fact that the steel deck arch span appears to date back to a time span between the 1990s, going back to the 1940s. In either case, the bridge’s lean appearance is attractive for many bridge photographers who enjoy a few minutes with the camera.

Berliner Brücke:

When leaving Halle (Saale) by train heading north, this bridge will be the last landmark to be seen on your way out. Today’s bridge, built in 2005, features a cable-stayed span that is 71 meters tall and 171 meters long, spanning the railroad tracks. Yet the bridge came at the cost of a steel eyebar suspension bridge with pony truss decking, which was built during the first World War, with the help of French soldiers. It was originally named the Hindenburg Bridge before it was changed after World War II. Despite being considered a historic landmark, excessive rust and corrosion, caused by diesel-powered trains passing underneath it, doomed the bridge, causing the city council to decide for a replacement span. The cable-stayed bridge was built to the north of the bridge and after its completion in 2005, the 1916 bridge was dismantled and sold for scrap, despite protests by many who wanted to keep the structure for reuse as a pedestrian bridge.

 

While some local newspapers have mentioned a bit about Halle’s bridges, more publicity on the structures was presented through a guide of Halle’s infrastructure, which was presented last year and included as many as 38 bridges in and around the city. Whether the article originally published in the Chronicles in 2012 as well as following newspaper articles had something to do with that or if people enjoy visiting the city’s bridges remains clear. But given the interest of tying the city’s bridges in with its history, it is a foregone conclusion that these historical structures will be properly cared for for generations to come, thus giving Halle several accolades for its heritage that had been kept under the rug by the East German government until 1989 but has shown its beautiful sides since then. And these 38 bridges, seen here in this guide (in German), together with a map of the bridges visited in 2011 and 2015, are one of many reasons why Halle is a place to visit when travelling through Germany and wanting a good bike tour through the city’s history and heritage. It is one of the cities I’ve since had on my top 10 German places to visit list. You’ll understand why when you get a chance to see it too. 🙂

Peissnitz Island Bridge Photo taken in Dec. 2015
Peissnitz Island Bridge Photo taken in Dec. 2015

More photos of the bridges in Halle can be found in the wordpress version of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. Click HERE to get to the page. The photos were taken during the author’s visit in 2011, 2012 and 2015. 

 

 

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Halle (Saale) is famous for many markets and events honoring Handel and other music greats. This includes the Christmas market, which you can click here to read about. Courtesy of sister column The Flensburg Files.

Die Letzte Klappe (The last word/span): The Herrenbrücke in Lübeck, Germany

Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6d/Herrenbruecke240803.jpg

It has been a few months since writing a review on a bridge book due to many commitments. But this first book review fits nicely with the topic on the Bridges of Lübeck in northern Germany, for it focuses on a landmark that should have been standing, but is no longer extant.

Located 6 kilometers north of the city in the suburb of Kucknitz, the Herrenbrücke has a history that is unique for the region and Europe. Located over the Trave and once hailed as the last bridge over this river before it empties into the Baltic Sea in Travemünde, only ten kilometers away, the Herrenbrücke was the only bridge in Germany that featured two single-leaf bascule bridges per roadway- four single leaf bascule spans all in all! Each span was 70 meters long. The height of the span over the Trave is over 50 meters tall. If one adds the approach spans, the total length of the bridge was over two kilometers. All in all, the Herrenbrücke was the largest bridge in Europe when it was bult in 1963 and opened to traffic at the beginning of 1964. Yet the 1964 span was the second crossing it this site. The very first crossing dates back to 1902 when a two-span swing deck truss bridge, using a Pratt design, was built. It was partially destroyed in a collision with the Swedish ship in 1909 and was rebuilt afterwards. In 1916, the bridge was electrified, allowing streetcars to cross the bridge providing a key connection between Siems and Kucknitz. The service was discontinued in 1958 and three years later, the suburbs and the City of Lübeck signed off on a contract to build the Herrenbrücke. Shortly after the new bridge was open to traffic, the steel truss swing bridge was removed.

But why did the bridge last for such a short time and had to be removed? Rainer Wiedemann, who lived near the bridge, documented the entire history of the bridge in his book, “Die Letzte Klappe: Abschied von der Herrenbrücke” (German for: The Last Word/Span: Farewell to the Herren-Bridge), which was published in 2011 and is available for ordering here. Mr. Wiedemann, who was born and raised in Lübeck and was a school teacher, documented the entire bridge prior to and during the removal process in 2005-06, which included detailed photos of the bridge, research into the bridge’s history (which included records of the bridge construction, old photos and postcards) and interviews with locals, city council members, and people who designed and built the Herren-Tunnel, the replacement of the Herrenbrücke which has been in service since 2005. Through this research, Wiedemann was able to look at the Herrenbrücke from all angles, including the reason why the Herrenbrücke had to be replaced after a short period in operation. The book is comparable with other books that were written about giant, popular crossings, such as the Sydney Harbor Bridge (75th anniversary book published in 2007), the Verrazano-Narrows and Brooklyn Bridges in New York City (former published in 2003, latter in 2013) and the Firth of Tay and Firth of Forth Bridges  in the United Kingdom (published in 1991), where several aspects were combined into one- technical, sociological and historical- and formulated in a way where there is an equal balance of photos and text that is simple to understand, and even the reader who is a non-native speaker of German can follow the progress on the bridge’s history from start to finish.

This explains the reason behind the decision of the City of Lübeck and the suburbs to replace the Herrenbrücke with the Herrentunnel, which Wiedemann found substantial amounts of information on the bridge’s problems which dated back to shortly after the opening in 1964. In a nutshell, despite its popularity among its residents within a 20-km radius and beyond, the bridge was nothing but trouble for the city council. Technical problems resulted in a bascule span to not work resulting in a complicated detour. Traffic jams being 5-10 km long. But what doomed the bridge were the amount of cracks and corrosion on the bascule spans as a result of gas emitted from passing ships, weather extremities and salt used on the roadways. Despite undergoing rehabilitation on the bridge in 1981 to strengthen the concrete approaches and sandblast the bascule spans, it only delayed the inevitable, which was decided in 2001 in favor of a tunnel, financed solely by the private sector. Yet the process came at a price: many residents were displaced as their houses at the site of the tunnel were razed. Businesses were bought out, including the ship-builder Flender-Wirft, which was in business for over a century until it was bought by private investors in 2002. Almost immediately after the purchase, diggers and wrecking balls brought down the almost 400 square facility, reducing the warehouses and manufacturing buildings to a pile of rubble. This company was near the site where the 1902 swing bridge was located.

After the Herrentunnel was completed in July 2005, the Herrenbrücke was given its last hurrah on 26 August, 2005 the same time as the opening of the tunnel. Afterwards, it was demolished starting with the removal of the basule spans, then the approach viaduct spans and lastly the abutments and control tower- a process that took over two years to complete. There is almost nothing left of the bridge except for a pair of green cranes that have been placed there.

The author’s title is the subject for debate, depending on how the reader looks at the information. The Letzte Klappe could mean the last span, meaning the bridge stood the test of time, despite all the problems it had, and it stood to the very end, although its life was cut too short. Yet it could mean the last word, meaning the decision was final to get rid of the bridge, even if it was at the expense of more houses and businesses. But from the author’s standpoint, it could also mean the last word in terms of memories of the bridge and the area that is all but a ghost town. Siems and Kucknitz were affected by the bridge in a way that it became a key point that was replaced by the tunnel. But the tunnel came at the price of memories of the bridge and the businesses that once served the communities. As Wiedemann mentioned, Siems is almost non-existent, whereas Kucknitz has not fared better because of the tunnel. But progress can also bring its advantages, and perhaps the tunnel was for the best for commuters and tourists alike. Still to this day, people are trying to cope with the change, which will take getting used to.

And eventually people will adapt to the change, but the memories of the bridge and the region that once existed will remain, even through this book, which has become a must-buy for locals and pontists wanting to know about the Herrenbrücke, its rise and fall, and its legacy that will forever be part of Lübeck’s history as well as that of Schleswig-Holstein’s and Germany’s.

Grade:  A+  (1,0)- for a well-detailed work on an iconic landmark that is comparable to other key bridges in Europe and the US. For engineers in Germany, a head-start for learning German! 🙂

Jackson Street Bridge Update 18 November, 2013

Side view of the Jackson Street Bridge.

Proposal to Demo the bridge to be brought up at Meeting 26 November; Voting to Commence Christmas Eve

Things are working much faster than anticipated with regards to the Green Bridge in Des Moines. While talks are being scheduled with regards to finding alternatives to demolishing the Jackson Street (Green) and neighboring Waterworks Park Bridges, the Des Moines City Council and the Park Board have officially planned a pair of important meetings, according to many sources, with regards to the future of the Green Bridge. The proposal to demolish the bridge will be presented to the City’s Park Board on November 26th at 5:00pm at the City Council’s Chamber, with voting to commence on Christmas Eve. Already, according to unknown sources, the City’s manager had proposed to demolish the Green and Meredith Trail Bridges last week to the Park Board only to be turned down by a 7-1 vote.  Despite the doom and gloom being presented by many claiming that the Green Bridge is in imminent danger of collapsing, it appears that the problems that led to its closure in March 2013 are fixable which is a good sign. The question is who will do it and how…

For those wanting to express their support for saving the Green Bridge, click here to contact the City’s council members and here to contact the Park Board. You can also like and follow the developments via facebook by clicking here. (800 Likes and counting, which is a very good sign that the interest in saving the bridge is present). Please ensure that you do this before the 26th meeting as well as prior to voting on Christmas Eve. The Chronicles will continue to follow the developments as they are unveiled, but it appears that the race to see who can get to the bridge first, between the bulldozer and the protesters, is off and running, and many people are looking on with great interest. And one will not have to ask who is cheering the loudest at the moment (and will continue to do so to the very end).  🙂

The Bridges of Lübeck, Germany

Hub Pedestrian Bridge. Photo taken in October 2013

Lübeck, Germany. The home of marzipan. The home of Medieval and Baroque architecture. Situated just west of the historic boundaries that had once separated East and West Germany  but is today Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Pommerania, the city of 230,000 inhabitants, the second largest city in the state behind Kiel, is home to two universities, and is a magnet for tourists, as it is only 15 minutes by train south of the Baltic Sea on the Trave River. As it has three rivers and a pair of man-made canals in and around the historic Old Town (declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO), it is not surprising that the city has one of the most populous bridges in Germany, ranking up there with Hamburg, Berlin, Erfurt and Nuremberg, just to name a few.  As many as 230 bridges are known to exist in Lübeck as well as the neighboring beach community of Travemünde. 19 of them are located in and around the historic Old Town, spanning the Trave River as well as parts of the harbor and the Lübeck-Elbe Canal, which tangents the Old Town to the southeast before going south towards the Elbe at Lauenburg, 80 kilometers south of the city. That canal was built between 1895 and 1900 by Peter Rehder, whose bridge in Lübeck is named after him.

Just recently, I had an opportunity to visit these bridges as part of our tour through Lübeck with my wife and daughter. Many of these bridges can be seen via boat while others are within 5-10 minute walking distance inside the Old Town.  Many of these structures have survived the onslaught of World War II, where 30% of the center was destroyed by air raids. Others were built in a fashionable way 15 years ago.  In either case, this tour will take you through the old town and to each of the bridges and their histories. Photos of the bridges can be viewed by clicking on the name of the bridge.  One of the bridges, the Herrenbrücke, will be featured in a separate article, for a book was written on the double-bascule bridge, which has been replaced by a tunnel.

We’ll start with the Canal Crossings before going to the Trave River ones.

Lübeck-Elbe Canal:

Hub Bridges:  The first crossing along the Canal is located at the mouth leading into the Trave River. The bridge features three different crossings, each measuring between 42 and 45 meters in length. Two of them are hydraulic vertical lift spans, each featuring riveted Parker truss spans. The river side of the bridge used to serve rail traffic which ran along the river before it was discontinued in the 1980s. That crossing was later fixed in an elevated form and left there to allow ships to continue passing through. The center portion of the bridge is open to vehicular traffic and connects Unter der Trave with Hafenstrasse. This still functions as a hydraulic vertical lift bridge today and, as you can see in the video here, one can see the span be hoisted in 2-3 minutes’ time from the neighboring Burgtorbrücke. The pedestrian bridge on the canal side is a steel through arch bridge with portal and strut bracings similar to the now extant Fort Keogh Bridge in Montana (USA). That crossing is the only fixed span built when the three crossings were built between 1896 and 1898. Rehder and C. Hoppe were the contractors for the three crossings as they were built as part of the five-year project to canalize the city. Despite the railroad bridge being decommissioned, the crossings are clearly delegated to pedestrians, cyclists and car drivers to ensure their safety in crossing the structures. The tower located next to the three bridges serves as the control station for the center span. Its fancy Baroque design matches that of the architecture one can see in Lübeck.

Here are the links to the photos of the three crossings:

Railroad Through Truss

Vehicular Through Truss

Pedestrian Through Arch

 

Burgtorbrücke-  At 210 meters, the deck cantilever truss bridge using a Pratt truss design, is the only bridge in the city’s history to originally be built to span the Wakinitz River before the Canal was built in 1898. The original bridge was supposedly built in 1806 connecting the Old Town at Burgtor with the northern part of the city where Gustav Radbruch Platz is now located. The span was later replaced in 1898 with a cantilever suspension bridge that was three times the length of the original span and with the same height as the present-day structure. That bridge was replaced in 1910 with the present structure and since that day, has continued serving traffic on the east side of the city, connecting the Old Town with Travemünde and points to the north and east. The nearby Gustav Radbruch Platz is the eastern hub for all bus services serving the city and beyond.  The concrete lion statues, conceived by artist Fritz Behn in 1913, were placed at the northern portals of the bridge in 1931 and are a site not to miss, together with the concrete ornamental railings and the Burgtor Gate that is located right next to the bridge to the south.

 

Photo taken in October 2013

Klughafen Pedestrian Bridge- In an earlier article posted on the Chronicles (click here), we had a pop quiz to ask you when the bridge was built and whether this bridge is movable or not. The answer to these two questions took even the author by surprise, given the nature of how the boat tour guide told the story. While the trusses may have indicated that it was built 100 years ago and it was rehabilitated 15 years ago, it was actually built in 1994. And while the vertical beams holding the center span indicate a potential vertical lift bridge that would have been one of a kind, it only serves as a way of keeping the span from falling into the canal. Hence the comment that the bridge “was a decoration” serving pedestrians. Yet the almost 20-year old is beset by problems to be addressed by the city council, and that is vandalism by spray-painting. Instead of the pine green color it presents, the bridge is covered with various colors and shapes, some of which are deemed inappropriate. It will not be surprising if this pedestrian bridge receives a makeover in the coming years ahead.

 

Hüxtertorbrücke- No German city is not complete without this type of bridge: a steel arch bridge whose upper chord represents Pratt trusses curving from one end to another.  One can find this bridge in cities like Munich, Berlin, Leipzig and Cologne (the last city is famous for its Hollernzollern Bridge). Plus there were some that had existed in places, like Kiel, before they were razed in favor of more modern bridges. The Hüxtertor Bridge, named after the gate that was destroyed in World War II and is now dominated by the Discothek, is one of the smaller of these bridge types. It was built in 1927 and is a pony arch bearing a pale lime green color. It features typical 1920s style lighting supported by concrete towers. The bridge carries Hüxterdamm, connecting the city center with Falkenplatz and its adjacent Volkshochschule (Institute of Continuing Education).

 

Rehderbrücke:  Located next to Hüxtertorbrücke on Krähenstrasse, this bridge was named after the man who built the canal but was built in 1936. The bridge type is deck plate girder with cantilever features, and the black bridge’s typical feature are the rollers on the concrete piers. These not only support the bridge itself, but they serve as devices for expansion (during the warm months) and contraction (during the cold months).

Mühlentorbrücke:  Apart from the Burgtorbrücke, this bridge is one of the most ornamental bridges built of steel that had existed in Lübeck before World War II. The bridge was built at the time of the construction of the Canal (1899-1900) and featured finials on towers that included ornamental lighting on it. The bridge itself is unusual in three ways: 1. The towers are supported by prefabricated curved steel beams which is also hold the vertical suspenders that attach to the road. It is not an eyebar suspension bridge, like the Three Sister Bridges of Pittsburgh, for these steel encased cables are stiff providing more tension to the top part of the bridge. 2. The roadway supported by the steel beams is diagonal to the towers that are built parallel to the riverbank. With the exception of the Swinemünde Bridge at Gesundbrünnen Station in Berlin (which is cantilever), the Mühlentor Bridge is one of the rarest suspension bridges that has such a unique feature.  3. And while there is no horizontal beam supporting the towers, like other suspension bridges, this bridge also features cantilever deck trusses as the support for the decking, rendering the towers and encased cables as useless. Henceforth this bridge is unique in itself and will most likely be considered a national landmark if it has not happened already.

Possehlbrücke-  The last bridge along the canal is the Possehlbrücke. Built in 1956, the bridge is a prestressed, and pretensioned concrete girder bridge serving Possehlstrasse between the Old Town and points going southwards. The bridge represents a classic example of concrete bridges that took too much vehicular traffic resulting in cracks in the concrete superstructure and other structural issues. Albeit restricted to traffic up to 7.5 tons since 2012, the bridge’s days are definitely numbered. Earlier this month, the city council voted unanimously to demolish the structure in favor of a new structure. Construction will start in Spring 2014 and will take over a year to complete. Tourists travelling by boat will be seeing cranes and diggers at the site in the coming year instead of the picture the author took.

Trave River:

Wipper Bridge and the Cathedral.

Wipperbrücke- Spanning the city arm of the Trave River as the first crossing entering the river, this 1744 structure is the only one that is built using brick, the same material used on much of the infrastructure in Schleswig-Holstein (and much of Lübeck). The first crossing  was a pedestrian bridge built in 1644 before it was widened to accommodate horse and buggy and later automobiles. The bridge is located 200 meters south of the Lübeck Cathedral and can be photographed together when travelling by boat. An even closer shot of the church can be made after passing underneath the structure and going 100 meters further. Both are a must

Wall Bridge- Spanning the tributary connecting the Trave and the Stadtgraben carrying Possehlstrasse near the Wipperbrücke, this closed spandrel arch bridge was built in the 1920s but was widened to accommodate traffic. It serves as a connecting point between the Old Town and Possehlbrücke.

Dankwärtsbrücke- Spanning the Trave River at Dankwärtsgrube, the Dankwärtsbrücke is one of three pedestrian bridges spanning this river in Lübeck’s Old Town. It holds the title of being the only wooden bridge in the city, and one that has a lot of charm and is still being visited by thousands of people each day. The crossing is the second one in use and follows the original construction of the bridge built 200 years earlier but was replaced in 2004 due to structural issues.

Professor’s Bridge- Located between Dankwärtsbrücke and Holstentor, the pedestrian bridge was the work of Peterson and Pörksen, architects whose office is located in Lübeck and neighboring Hamburg. Built in 2007 as part of the plan to convert the Trave into a tourist boating port, the concrete bridge features a beam span supported by V-shaped piers which creates a trapezoidal shape with the point in the center of the bridge. This is important to allow boats to pass. The churches can be seen by this bridge.

Holstentorbrücke- Despite its length of 30 meters and being a single span closed spandrel concrete arch bridge, this bridge is perhaps the oldest that ever existed, located at the world renowned Holstentor Gate, the most used landmark of the city in terms of marzipan, paintings, souvenirs and the like. The bridge was first mentioned in 1216 when it was built as a wooden bridge. It was destroyed by flooding in 1320, and between that time and 1516, the bridge was rebuilt three times, with the third crossing being a stone arch bridge. The next bridge resembled the Rialto Bridge in Venice and lasted over 300 years before it was replaced in 1853 by a short span crossing that accomodated both rail and horse-traffic. While the rail line, originally connecting Lübeck Railway station and the harbor was discontinued in the early 1930s, vehicles continued using the bridge, hence the widening of the structure in 1934 to its current shape and form.

Beckerbrücke- Spanning the Untertrave, the pedestrian bridge connects the Lübeck Convention Center with the Beckergrube and provides a direct link to the center of the Old Town with its churches and shopping area. A person needs only seven minutes between St. Jacob’s Church and the Convention Center. The bridge was built in 2004 and features a beam span supported by a set of two-column piers.

Drehbrücke (Swing Bridge)Spanning the Untertrave at Willy-Brandt Allee between St. Lorenz and the Old Town, the bridge is one of only a couple swing bridges left in Schleswig-Holstein that is in operation. The bridge features a curved Howe pony truss, where there are three trusses, the center one of which separates two lanes of traffic. Built in 1892, it is the third oldest bridge left in operation and features a swing mechanism where a combination of rollers and hydraulics are used to swing the bridge open at a 60° angle, allowing ships and boats to pass through the crossing. A video shows the bridge closing after the boats pass through (click here).  Originally used for rail traffic connecting the train station and the harbor ports to the north via Hub Bridges, the bridge was converted to vehicular use in the 1980s and has operated for 121 years with little repairs done on it. The bridge is located next to a famous fish restaurant where a person can dine on some of the city’s specialties with a glass of wine and watch the ships pass through  as the bridge swings open and close.  The bridge is located next to another railroad bridge approximately 200 meters away. The Warren pony truss span with riveted connections spans part of the harbor and can be seen from the train station. It has been sitting abandoned for over a decade, awaiting reuse.

Eric Warburg Bridge- Losing the Herrenbrücke was a blow that the City of Lübeck did not want. Fortunately, the Eric Warburg Bridge was built at the time the 1964 two-span drawbridge was being demolished because of the tunnel. Yet this bridge had been in the planning phases for over a century, starting off with the plan by Peter Rehder to build it closer to the Old Town along the Lübeck-Elbe Canal. Yet the plan was tabled due to opposition from the citizens, as well as the two World Wars. Yet in 2004, the need to establish the connection between the Old Town and St. Gertrud justified the need for a single-leaf draw bridge, which took four years to build. The bridge features a blue-colored steel beam bridge with a center span that opens at regular intervals, controlled by the grey shaped control tower. A video shows you how the bridge works (click here).  Since the Herrenbrücke was removed in 2008, the bridge is the last crossing over the Trave before emptying into the Baltic Sea 10 kilometers to the north at Travemünde.

The bridge also has a history involving a prominent citizen. Eric Warburg, a banker from Hamburg, was of Jewish origin and contributed a great deal to saving many lives during World War II. After emigrating to the US in 1938, he served the American army and helped many people escape the tyranny of Adolf Hitler and his killing machine aimed at exterminating the Jews before and during the war. After Lübeck was heavily damaged during air raidson 29 March, 1942, in which 20% of the historic Old Town was destroyed, Warburg knew of the plan for another series of air raids that would eventually destroy the rest of the city and informed his cousin Carl Jacob Burckhardt, president of the International Red Cross about it. Together, the city was declared a neutral zone and a port where humanitarian aide would enter Germany. The plan was successful and not only was Lübeck spared, but it  was declared neutral governed by the Red Cross until the end of the war in 1945. For his work as well as his engagement in German-American relations, the Emil Warburg Prize was introduced in 1988 and given to people who performed great deeds for keeping the German-American relations sound. Among those receiving the prize were Richard von Weizsäcker (German president from 1984 to 1994), Henry Kissinger (Secretary of State under Richard Nixon) and former US President George HW Bush.

And as icing on the cake…

Puppenbrücke (EN: Bridge of Statues):

The last bridge on this tour is a must-see if you are a pontist or love history. The Bridge of Statues spans the Stadtgraben providing the lone important link between Holstentor and the Old Town to the east and Lübeck’s Railway Station and Bus Depot to the west. The bridge’s history dates back to the 1700s, when the bridge was built using wood. Yet the stone arch bridge was first constructed in 1773 and widened to accomodate traffic in 1907. The bridge features eight different sandstone sculptures on the railings, which includes the statue of the Woman of Peace, which is the answer to the question posed in an earlier article (click here). Each statue represents either a god or a different symbol, which was described further in detail by René and Peter van der Grodt and can be viewed here. These statues were made by Dietrich Jürgen Boy and P.H. Gnekow in 1774 and had been in place until 1985 when they were replaced by replicas and the originals were taken to the St. Anna’s Museum where they can be seen today but under protection from pollution. The bridge also features four different seals called reliefs, each located on one corner of the spandrel of the bridge, representing Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. Those can be seen from boat or by climbing down to the shoreline of the Stadtgraben.

After touring through the Old Town and visiting each of the bridges mentioned here, which will take a day to complete when walking by foot and a couple hours by boat, one should not forget to try the marzipan products, including the marzipan pie provided by the family owned but world renowned Niederegger candy and restaurant, while at the same time, listen about the history of another bridge that used to exist in the city but a tunnel had taken its place. A book was written about this bridge and its history and in the second part on the series, we will have a look at the rise and fall of the Herrenbrücke, located north of Lübeck in the village of Siems, once an industrial port but now a faded memory.