Tianjin / many ways to cross a river

When you find a city on a river, you expect to see bridges.  Funnily enough, there are only two bridges over the Huangpu River in the centre of Shanghai (both are humongous – to let big boats under, I guess) with most cross-river traffic using one of the many tunnels under the river.

Tianjin has lots of bridges.  For at least a hundred years, the two sides of the city have been linked over the Haihe River and these structures has become a kind of landmark for the city.  In fact, a few years ago the government decided that they would go a bridge-building frenzy, all part of connecting and renewing the different parts of the city.  No surprise: things got a bit wacky at times.

On first seeing the Jintang Bridge, I just assumed that it was quite a convincing replica of a historic steel bridge, well-proportioned, well-constructed and complete with a section that allows it pivot open (presumedly fake too…)  It was in fact built in 1907 and was Tianjin’s first steel bridge.  Still the domain of pedestrians only (its proportions would not allow vehicular traffic, thankfully), the bridge connects the Ancient Culture Street and the Italian Quarter of the city.

You know what they say … lie down with fake dogs, you get up with fake fleas.

Of a similar vintage, the 100-metre long Jiefang Bridge is a bascule (drawbridge) type with the whole middle section hinging open for boats.

This one (the Jinggang Bridge) is surprisingly old too.  First constructed in 1920s, it was augmented in 1992 with a steel arch that supports a second bridge level above the original.

Double deckers bridges don’t really make pleasant urban spaces.

OK, so no prizes for guessing that this one is NOT from Renaissance Europe.  Though, I was surprised to find that it is almost 40 years old.  Seems that this transposed European historicism has been going on for a while!

Some of the bridges from recent years are really quite eye-popping.


The Jinbu Bridge, while not so magical from side-on, creates some interesting spaces and junctions at a closer scale.


And the Dapu Bridge is very elegant.

But my favourite is the Yongle Bridge.  What bridge? you ask.  Surely that is just the world’s 4th largest* ferris wheel I see?! (*at time of construction)

But no.  At some point in time, someone imagined something wonderful – a contraption that would bridge and ferris at the same time.  And if such a contraption was to be built, it would only be in China.

I wonder if that same person stands at the base of the Yongle Bridge, watching as its 48 capsules make their 30 minute journey from a base station cleverly integrated into the underside of a 4 lane municipal road, split to accommodate the turning wheel, and thinks to their inwardly-smiling self: “I just KNEW this would work.”


6 Responses to Tianjin / many ways to cross a river

  1. Justin says:

    Have to agree with you: that Yongle Bridge really is something special.

  2. luKe says:

    River cities breed people that sieze opportunities. Afterall, if their citizens don’t grab that valuable log / wayward cow / unsecured boat that happens to be floating past then it is gone forever. China is full of great rivers and consequently full of opportunists.

    By contrast harbour cities are tidal. Their citizens are presented with a different set of circumstances and can afford to wait for the their opportunities to be carried back and forth a
    few times before Making a considered move of committing to action.

    And people from lake cities can sit back and wait for their opportunities to just wash up at their feet.

  3. luKe says:

    And if you believe that sweeping generalization I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

  4. C C says:

    I can see them now, the drive on Ferris wheels of the future.

  5. Pingback: Figuring out the last year … « That Look Crayzy!

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