This is one of those rare Dover coloring books that are just so extraordinary that there's hardly words to describe it, on par with The American House Styles of Architecture and Castles of the World. It is unfathomable that Dover has let it go out of print. I hope it is one that will be brought back again. It consists of 45 beautifully rendered drawings of famous bridges, ranging in history from 2000 B.C. to 1964. LaFontaine has provided interesting information about each bridge.
I researched every one of these online and even the 2000 B.C. and 1000 B.C. ones are still standing. Out of the 45, only a handful have been torn down or remodeled/rebuilt, but I was still able to obtain at least some information on all of them, including historic photos, models, or works of art. I could not believe how many renderings there were of the Old London Bridge, you know, the one that was like a city street, full of shops and even homes. There are a couple bridges still in existence that are lined with shops. After I completed this book, it literally sat there for a week because I had no idea how I would choose what to post. There is just too much great stuff here!
Now, as for my personal feeling about bridges, I hate them. They give me the creeps. If I must drive across one, I just want to get to the other side as fast as I can. I cannot imagine driving on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which is eight-and-a-half miles long. Yikes! In fact, with quite a few of these, though lovely to look at or color, my reaction to driving across them would be "No way, José" I drive over the drain culvert at the end of my driveway. That's about the extent of my comfort level with bridges.
Most of the bridges take up one page, lengthwise by turning the book, but one fits the page regular. Several take up two pages, and two pages have simpler drawings of two bridges each. With much struggle, I finally decided on these twelve, plus two historic photos I found online. If you can snatch up a copy of this book, like on Amazon, I highly recommend it.
The first example is a Peruvian Rope Suspension Bridge, from around 1870. This was the only bridge that was not a specific one, in other words, it is a general type. Still there were many photos of this kind of bridge available to see. This is definitely in the "don't even think about asking me to walk across that" category.
The second one is a timber cantilever bridge from the nineteenth century. It was located in Srinagar, in the Himalayan valley of Kashmir. It is no longer in existence, but I found a great site with photos of other historic bridges from that area. I included that below.
The next bridge is one of the two-pagers, and is actually three bridges which cross the Tiber River in Rome. The one at the far left is the Pons Aemilius, which is labelled incorrectly in the book. It dates from 178 B.C. and is also called the "Ponte Rotto," or broken bridge. The one right behind it is the Pons Cestius, 43 B.C., and the one on the right is the Pons Fabricus, 62 B.C.
On the right, is one of my favorites in the book, the Pont du Gard. It is an example of a Roman aqueduct, to transport water!. It is a tourist attraction now, and visitors can see the lines through which the water traveled. It was built in 19 B.C. and is located near Nîmes, France.
Here, we see two bridges located in Spain. The first, the Puente Alcántara was built around A.D. 98 and crosses the Tagus River. The second is absolutely breathtaking. I spent a great deal of time looking at all the photos from Ronda. It was built around 1650.
Several of the bridges in this collection were railroads, and this is one. It is the Carrollton Railroad Viaduct, a stone arch bridge from around 1829. It was built for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and is the oldest railroad bridge in the U.S. still standing. The second one, the Eads Bridge, built from 1867 to 1874 crosses the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri. It is near the Gateway Arch. I was up in that arch back in 1975, so I must have seen the bridge, too, but I don't remember it.
Here is a nice rendering of London's famous Tower Bridge built from 1886 to 1894. It is a descendent of the castle drawbridge.
Following that is another railroad bridge, the Tunkhannock Creek Railroad Viaduct near Scranton Pennsylvania. It was built from 1912 to 1915.
And last are two bridges in San Francisco, starting with the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge mentioned above. It was built from 1933 to 1936. It goes to Yerba Buena Island, then through a tunnel, and on to Oakland. Wow! And following that is the famous Golden Gate Bridge, which is actually red, built from 1933 to 1937.
Here are the two images from online I wanted to share. The first is the timber cantilever bridge pictured above in Kashmir. The website is really great—lots of historic photos. This one is No. 12.
The website is Kadalnama-Bridges of Srinagar
The next one is from a website called Philaphilia: Lost Bridge of the Week. I found both of the historic bridges of Philadelphia pictured in the coloring book on this site. This one is the Fairmount Bridge over the Schuylkill River.
In all, coloring this book was a totally enjoyable and educational experience. Obviously I never would have known about all these fascinating bridges otherwise.
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