Millennium Bridge

oh, Millennium Bridge, you landmark that left a little blemish of embarrassment on London’s face (but not as big as the Millennium Dome, which might redeem itself with the Olympics …) when you had to be closed promptly after opening because of your swaying when people walked across you in unison.

the bridge opened on an “exceptionally fine day” in 2000, but was only open for two days before the wobble closed it for fully two years while modifications were made to correct the unsettling effect.

the “wobble” was caused by a “positive feedback” phenomenon, wherein the the natural sway of humans walking resulted in small oscillations in the bridge, then causing the people on the bridge to sway with the motion of the bridge, amplifying the effect. on the day the bridge opened, it was crossed by some 90,000 people (due in some part to the fact that it was included in the route for a Save the Children charity walk), with up to 2,000 walking across at a time. attempts were made to limit the number of people on the bridge at any one time, which resulted in long queues — one wonders if the architects would have suffered greater criticism if they’d left it open and maintained the limited access.

as with the Bean in Chicago, the design of the Millennium Bridge was selected through a design contest that was organized in 1996. concern for maintaining a clear view of the London skyline resulted in the bridge’s low profile. while the Tate Modern certainly isn’t anything dazzling to view from the north bank of the Thames, the way that St. Paul’s is framed from the south bank is quite spectacular. shame I didn’t get that shot. if I recall correctly, Becca and I were on our way to see “Romeo & Juliet” at the New Globe, which is also near the south foot of the bridge.

Author: Erica

born in the midwest with wandering feet.