Friday, August 08, 2014

Cincinnati's Historic John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge

John A, Roebling Bridge looking at Covington, Kentucky 
John A. Roebling Bridge looking towards Cincinnati

This is the oldest standing suspension bridge designed by John A.Roebling- built between 1856- 1867. He actually built an earlier one in Pittsburgh, whose masonry piers now support the Smithfield Street Bridge.

Roebling is important not just as a creative engineering genius, but as an early driving force in German immigration. (German influence pervades Cincinnati today) He founded the town of Saxonburg, in Butler County where he formed a company to produce steel suspension cables.

"In the decades before 1856, want and need of a passage over the Ohio River was apparent. Commerce between Ohio and Kentucky could not continue unless some form of transportation was devised that did not bow to the whims of mother nature. Unfortunately, the distance from shore to shore was great and the steamboat traffic highly congested. Up to that point, the only solution that would not constrict traffic on the river even further was a wire cable suspension bridge of the type developed by French engineers. Several American engineers had begun designing and building suspension bridges. One of these men was John A. Roebling of Saxonburg, Pennsylvania. The Ohio River, however, was much wider than any river that had been bridged in France."
Steamboat and ferry interests and others bitterly opposed Roebling's proposal as a potentially dangerous river obstruction. 30 years later similar objections were raised about his Brookyn Bridge design.

For many years, the bridge was used by streetcars but its use is now severely limited by weight restrictions.
During the summer a cool & very convenient mini trolley connects Covington's waterfront hotels to Cincinnati via the bridge and there are pedestrian paths on either side.

All in all, the bridge, which has only 2 lanes seems underused. Either it should support a few more trolley shuttle routes, or fully opened up to just bikes and pedestrians.

I knew about Cincinnati's historic neighborhoods but was not prepared for how amazing Covington was.

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