Brian Micklethwait's Blog
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Category archive: Bridges
This posting is a test, which will involve great confusion to anyone trying to read this blog now, as I do this. And actually, quite a lot of confusion in perpetuity.
I am trying to work out whether these four squares will fit in the allotted sideways space (500 pixels). Once I’ve got them fitting properly, I’ll tell you what they are, and what that picture at the bottom is.
And right away, we have a problem. The square on the right has shoved itself under the first one, rather than where I was hoping it would be. This requires all the squares to stop being 123x123 (pixels), and must instead be resized to become 122x122. This could take a while.
Okay, all done now. And it didn’t take long at all:
Let me explain. I am planning one of my big photo collections with lots of squares, and before doing that I needed to know how big the little squares needed to be, to fit properly into 500 pixels. Just as well I did this test.
As to what the four squares above are, well, there’s a clue below. They were taken on December 16th 2006, the same day as I took all these photos.
The one on the left, as it turns out, is also in the original mega collection linked to above. I guess there’s just something about a canoe man falling over forewards.
The second … well, how could I have missed this first time around? Two geese eating what is clearly a whole pizza!
Number three is a particularly vivid example of the Things Reflected genre, and I like it a lot.
And I picked out the one on the right, because it is the exact same bridge, and the exact same view of it, as is featured in this posting, except that in 2006 there was no graffiti. So right there, the decline of Western Civilisation, happening in front of our eyes.
And this final picture is what happened on my screen when I was processing that last picture.
Moiré patterns. Because these patterns were the result of the photo and my screen colliding, I don’t know what you will see on all your screens. Maybe nothing, and you don’t have the faintest idea what I am talking about.
Anyway, job done. 122x122 it is.
In that 2006 postings, as with many of my large photo-collections here, there is a horizontal gap between horizontal lines of photos, but no vertical gaps between each photo. I prefer the latter arrangement. If there are gaps, they should be everywhere. Hence this test, beause I have never done a collection which is four little photos wide. Three wide, yes, but not four.
I knew you’d be excited.
This week, I have been in a particularly egotistical and silly mood here. (Which is allowed, because I say what is allowed.) This is because I worked extremely hard (by my pathetic standards of what hard work is) on this posting at Samizdata, and am now relaxing.
Mark Steyn may be a grump about such things as the future of Western Civilisation, but he sure can write:
For much of last year, a standard trope of President Obama’s speechwriters was that there were certain things only government could do. “That’s how we built this country - together,” he declared. “We constructed railroads and highways, the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. We did those things together.” As some of us pointed out, for the cost of Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill alone, you could have built 1,567 Golden Gate Bridges - or one mega-Golden Gate Bridge stretching from Boston to just off the coast of Ireland. Yet there isn’t a single bridge, or a single dam (“You will never see another federal dam,” his assistant secretary of the interior assured an audience of environmentalists). Across the land, there was not a thing for doting network correspondents in hard hats to stand in front of and say, “Obama built this.”
Until now, that is. Obamacare is as close to a Hoover Dam as latter-day Big Government gets. Which is why its catastrophic launch is sobering even for those of us who’ve been saying for five years it would be a disaster. It’s as if at the ribbon-cutting the Hoover Dam cracked open and washed away the dignitaries; as if the Golden Gate Bridge was opened to traffic with its central span missing; as if Apollo 11 had taken off for the moon but landed on Newfoundland. Obama didn’t have to build a dam or a bridge or a spaceship, just a database and a website. This is his world, the guys he hangs with, the zeitgeist he surfs so dazzlingly, Apple and Google, apps and downloads. But his website’s a sclerotic dump, and the database is a hacker’s heaven, and all that’s left is the remorseless snail mail of millions and millions of cancellation letters.
And then it disappears behind a paywall. Which is to say a place where links probably don’t work for you. Which is why I never pay to get beyond paywalls. I pay for things I want. But paywalls, walls I cannot direct every single one of my readers through (in the event that they wish to be directed so), I do not want.
But, I’ll bet you anything, at least this paywall works properly.
A few days ago I did a posting, featuring one of those faked up photos, about how they are talking of moving a bridge in Porto from down by the river to uptown. Unfortunately, I muddled up two different bridges. Michael Jennings informed me by phone of this muddle and then he added to the posting this further clarificatory comment:
The Dom Luis Bridge is in the centre of town, and is the principal pedestrian route from one side of the river the the other, the vehicle route for local traffic from close to the river one one side to close to the river on the other, and also (on the top deck) carries Porto’s light metro. The Maria Pia Bridge is the rail bridge a kilometre upstream that is no longer in use.
The Maria Pia Bridge was designed by Gustave Eiffel, although his employee Téophile Seyrig did much of the work. At the time it was the longest arch bridge in the world. Seyrig then (no longer working for Eiffel) built the Dom Luis Bridge, which then broke the record that had been held by the Maria Pia bridge. The two structures are similar, although the Maria Pia bridge lacks the bottom deck that the Dom Lewis bridge has. The two bridges are often confused. Also, perhaps rather sweetly, Dom Luis and Maria Pia were married to one other.
The plan to move the bridge away from the river seems a flight of fancy to me, although the basic problem that the bridge is very beautiful, very historically significant, and not presently used for anything does remain.
Michael spelt it Dom Lewis, but I’ve changed it to Dom Luis, because that does seem to be the proper spelling. Or maybe it is Don. Maybe it’s either Don Luis or Dom Lewis, and you can’t mix them. Whatever.
Michael, who happened to be just about to visit Porto when I said all this, was urged to send back photos of these two bridges. He did, for which much thanks.
Here is the bridge that is still very much in use, the Dom Luis Bridge, with a railway at the top and a road for cars and pedestrians at the bottom:
Taken with his iPad camera. Michael apologised for that, but I think it’s rather dramatic.
Later Michael sent two more pictures, presumably taken with a rather fancier camera.
First we have, again, the Dom Luis Bridge:
And here is the one they are talking about moving, the Maria Pia Bridge:
You can see why Portoans like their bridges, and why it seems like a nice idea to turn the disused one into a big piece of public sculpture.
Meanwhile, I repeat my earlier questions. Will people be allowed on top of the bridge to take photos from it? And: If Porto doesn’t want this bridge any more, can London please have it?
This is remarkable:
This is what it is:
The crows that live in Tokyo use clothes hangers to make nests. In such a large city, there are few trees, so the natural materials that crows need to make their nests are scarce. As a result, the crows occasionally take hangers from the people who live in apartments nearby, and carefully assemble them into nests. The completed nests almost look like works of art based on the theme of recycling.
Or, alternatively, like a Thing made with coat hangers.
But what I particularly like about the Crows Nest of Coat Hangers (I prefer “coat hangers” to “coathangers” because that could be read as “coa thangers") is that I have never before seen anything made like that by a bird. Made like that yes, by a human. By a bird, no. All the other photos are very nice, but I have already seen similar things, stunningly photographed. Technically, the crows nest photo is not actually that great. It’s the Thing itself that is great.
I have always liked that big bridge in Porto. Indeed, I blogged about it, in 2004.
Well, now there is a plan to move the bridge, which is no longer in use, to a higher spot in the town:
I think this is a fine plan. It would presumably make the bridge far more visible from afar. It’s amazing what a difference a distinctive Big Thing like this can make to a city. Ask Paris.
Will people be allowed to climb to the top of the newly located Porto Bridge? It would be a fantastic place to take photos from, except that I rather fear that the most visually interesting thing in Porto is the bridge itself. Views of the bridge, from various parts of Porto: great. Views from the bridge: rather ordinary? Don’t know. Hope that’s wrong. Actually, it looks pretty good.
Maybe if Porto doesn’t do this, London should put in a bid. Photoing London from that Thing would be stupendous.
LATER: Just had a call from Michael J saying I’m muddling up two different bridges. The one in the fake photo above is not the same one as the one in the photo in the earlier blog posting I linked back to. That bridge is still very much in use. The one that is no longer being used, which they are thinking of moving, is some way downstream. Michael is about to visit Porto, and has told me that he will try to take some photos of both. If he manages this, it would be most welcome.
London already has many interesting bridges, but might be about to get another:
Changsha on the other hand, a place I had never heard of until today, and going only by the picture below, has rather little by way of visual excitement, or will have until they build this bridge, as it appears they definitely intend to:
Architect John van de Water says the form is also intended to reference traditional Chinese crafts. “It refers to a Chinese knot that comes from an ancient decorative Chinese folk art,” he explained.
Ingratiating bullshit being a core architectural skill.
Not that this makes it a bad bridge. On the contrary, it looks like a lot of fun, that will cheer the place up no end.
And I agree with Heatherwick, and with his celebrity booster Joanna Lumley, that the exact part of the Thames (the north end would be at Temple tube station) where they have put their proposed bridge could indeed do with some further livening up.
As I keep saying, photos often age well, like wine.
This, of the City of London, was taken with my previous camera but one, from the inside of the top of Tower Bridge, in December of 2006. How time flies when I’m taking photos.
Memo to self. Must go back there, and take the same picture. Things will have changed quite a lot.
LATER: After further rootling, I think I prefer this version:
You get more of a feeling of where you are, as in where I was, when there’s something in the foreground.
And while I’m adding stuff to this posting, here is another view that will look very different, when I photo that one again:
Following along from the previous posting, more impressive looking sky:
Photoed last Monday evening, from the far end of Vauxall Bridge from me.
The thing like an upside down table is Battersea Power Station, which is about to be redeveloped. Not obliterated and turned into something else entirely. Just turned into something that looks the same but is of some use.
You can visit it as is this weekend. Then, not for a year or two.
So I was leafing through Mick Hartley’s blog last week, as you do, and I came across this picture, in a posting entitled Edwin eats cats:
And I thought, I recognise this. Sure enough, when out and about near Hackney Wick myself, on (I bet) the exact same day that Hartley took the above snap, I snapped this:
Click on that, to see that the graffiti is exactly as Hartley saw it.
I have pretty much identical tastes in pictures to Mick Hartley. I probably ought to leave more comments on his site saying things like: nice photo, I like that one, good colours, and so on. But like most sane people, I am reluctant to spout words praising art. Such words tend to come out either banal or nonsensical.
More bad news for Edwin, in this picture, of another bridge, taken ten minutes later:
At the time, I thought I was photoing another bridge, which currently, as I recall, goes from nowhere to nowhere, but which will presumably go from somewhere to somewhere once they finish all that Olympic refurbishment. It turns out I was photoing graffiti.
Okay that’s enough of Western Civilisation collapsing. I agree with the graffitist using the white paint, critiquing his black paint predecessor. “Enough”, he says. I agree.
The Walkie Talkie has a problem. It is frying nearby shops and passers-by with a concentrated death-beam of sunlight.
Here is a picture that I took of the Walkie Talkie earlier this year, the Walkie Talkie being the big downward tapering lump on the right:
As this picture shows, one of the Walkie Talkie’s faces, the one pointing towards the river, is a giant concave mirror, pointing a bit downwards, which (had anyone used those words to describe that face) should have said that it would cause exactly the sort of trouble that it has now caused.
I am currently attempting a piece about modernism in architecture for Samizdata, and it would help me to be able to link to a picture of the Walkie Talkie which shows not only the building itself (which is what the news stories are all now showing), but also the building in its wider urban context. This piece of writing is already a very complicated and unwieldy one, and it may never get finished, but meanwhile there is the kind of picture I need to be able to link to.
The footbridge is the new Millenium Bridge, which also had a problem when first built. It wobbled.
This photo was taken from inside the new Blackfriars Railway Station, the one on a bridge. It was taken through glass, hence the occasional bits of reflected light.
(But, hence also the rather agreeable blueness of the sky. All glass, however clear it seems, acts as a photographic filter. This explains also why views reflected in windows often come out looking better than the views themselves.)
Original (bigger and better) photo here.
This was a ship delivering these cranes to baltimore harbor. they had to go under the Bay Bridge at low tide with the bridge closed to traffic. It was a sight to see!
Yes, time for one of those thin, flat pictures that suit blogging so well. This one is a slice of this picture:
London, from way out east anyway, is starting to look a bit like this.
This picture at the same site (Twisted Sifter is a current favourite of mine), taken in Paris, is also great. Even better, actually, I think. Just not horizontally sliceable.
These pictures, on the other hand, this time of the New York skyline (1876, 1932, 1988, 2013), are horizontal perfection.
It took me a while to work out what the big lump in the middle of the 1876 picture is. It’s the beginnings of the Brooklyn Bridge, which, it would appear, was the biggest thing in New York when it was first built.
Looking for photos of the Chinese roof dwelling that I wrote about in the previous posting here, I found myself having a general wander around at something called Twisted Sifter, which I enjoyed and have not finished enjoying.
In particular, I looked for bridges. It is becoming harder to surprise or delight me with news of new bridges, because I seem to have seen pictures of most of the interesting recent ones. But this posting, about animal bridges around the world, gathered together bridges that I had not seen before.
This is typical of the kind of bridge they mean:
That one is in the Netherlands.
Interestingly, one of the photos in the collection is of a bridge whose location they do not know, and they ask for help.
It’s shaped like an apostrophe, so that it can twiddle around the big bit, to let ships go by:
Its official name is “Scale Lane Bridge”. And it would appear to be yet another example of what Dan Cruikshank says in the preface (page 7) of his book Bridges, published in 2010:
Now, in many ways, the outpouring of ingenuity and creativity that distinguish the best bridges of the past is found not in huge creations but in smaller bridges where the challenge is not so much to achieve a crossing on an heroic scale but to do so in a manner that is consciously intended to delight and to give a place identity. In parallel to the rise of the mega-bridge is the evolution of the gem-like, small-scale bridge - often only a pedestrian bridge such as the Gateshead Millennium Bridge in England - that functions not just as a route but also as a work of art - as a creation that provides a promenade, that grants character, distinction and sense of place.
This book has many pictures and was originally priced at £25. But I got it in my local remainder shop for a fiver and it also now costs around that or less on Amazon, if you push the right buttons.
So here are three more digital photographers digitally photographed by me on March 5th, to add to the ones in this photo-collection:
I chose those for all my usual kinds of reasons, to do with focusing and composition and suchlike, which is not major my purpose now.
What I have done is reduced the size of the little photos above, that you click on to get the real photos, from 166 pixels wide to 165 pixels wide, and shoved a small space in between. I’m hoping that 165 x 3 + 2 spaces won’t go beyond the 500 pixel limit, but only posting it will tell.
Which means that this posting is liable to be posted, and then reposted a few times, while I work out what works. I can’t tell from within my blogging software whether these new spaces and pictures sizes are a good fit, or if I’ll have (e.g.) to make the pictures a bit smaller.
It goes with saying (surely a more rational way of saying “it goes without saying”, if you immediately then say it) that I am a bit apologetic about this disruption. But in truth, not very apologetic.
The reason I am doing this is that I have now got my Google Nexus 4 supersmart mobile phone, and have been looking at how this blog looks on it.
Point one: obviously all the regular stuff on the left that you don’t read should be on the right. That may one day happen, and may not.
But the other thing is that when I do these little clutches of lots of little clickable photos, then on the GN4, just as on my computer, I get a small white space between each horizontal row of pictures and the next row down, but not between each picture, sideways. If you get my drift. And a much better arrangement would be to have spaces between each picture, if only to make the pictures easy to see as separate pictures, especially on something like the Google Nexus 4.
So now you know.
A BIT LATER: Too wide. The blurry digital photographer behind the focused leaves, who was supposed to be on the right, has moved himself to a new row below of his own creation. So now I will make the small pictures 164 pixels wide rather than 165. Isn’t this exciting? Well, probably not.
A BIT LATER STILL: Done.