The modern, four-star 801-room Tower Hotel is situated on the banks of the River Thames, next to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge and close to the city's financial district. The hotel is home to a fitness center, and on-site...more
Situated opposite the Tower of London on the Thames close to Tower Bridge and St Pauls Cathedral. Take a short tube ride to the London Eye, Tate Modern, Millennium Bridge or the West End theatre...more
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The Tower Bridge over the Thames River, in London, England, is now 168 years old. One of the most iconic landmarks of London, it is not to be confused with London Bridge upstream. Built between 1886 and 1894, it took 432 construction workers and five contractors to finish it. Architect, Sir Horace Jones, and engineer, Sir John Wolfe Barry, created the plan for the bridge to ease congestion on London's east side.
This large project is a combination of a bascule and suspension bridge. A bascule is the French word for seesaw or balance. It consists of the moveable planks of the bridge that rise up, at an 83-degree angle, to allow tall ships through. The operations equipment is in the base of each tower. The horizontal walkway that connects the two towers is for pedestrian traffic, and doubles as an exhibition space. It is 143 feet above the river at high tide.
As massive as this bridge is, it only takes five minutes to raise the bascules, even though they weigh over 1,000 tons each. Pedestrians often wait for ships to pass through rather than take the high walkway. The bridge connects Tower Hamlets on the north side of the Thames River to Southwark on the south side. The bridge is owned and maintained by a charitable trust called the Bridge House Estates, and the City of London Corporation oversees it. There is no toll to cross.
The towers themselves are 213 feet tall, and sit on piers in the river. It only took 70,000 tons of concrete and over 11,000 tons of steel for the framework of the towers and walkway! Cornish granite and Portland stone cover the outside, rather regally. Portland stone, or limestone found on the Isle of Portland off the south coast of England, was used in Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral and the UN building in New York.
The Victorian Gothic architecture was designed to "harmonize" with the Tower of London. It is called Tower Bridge because of its location near the Tower. Eight years of construction ran up an enormous tab, and in 2012 equivalent amounts, it cost €100 million. It was well worth it for the amount of tourism it brings to town, and the 40,000 people that cross it everyday would agree that it was a desperately needed improvement.
Approximately 380,000 tourists visit the bridge annually to view the walkway exhibits and take in the panoramic vistas on each side. The bridge museum is in the old engine rooms on the south side. Old steam engines and other bascule-moving gear from the past are exhibited there. Its recent facelift has made it even more spectacular.