Historical Significance

18 April 2008

Aside from the interesting design and rigging needs of the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the project has created a lot of buzz as folks reminisce about the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

The story goes that the true, first Tacoma Narrows Bridge was a marvel, a site to behold when it was completed on July 1, 1940. It was the third longest suspension bridge in the world and visitors from miles around came to stand on the bridge that swayed back and forth in the wind. It was dubbed “Galloping Gertie,” for the sensation caused by the oscillations in the bridge's deck.

But the bridge was a fascinating landmark for only four months, when on November 7, 1940, just over four months after the bridge had opened, its life was cut short when a windstorm caused its collapse. No one was injured and a passerby was able to capture video footage of the bridge's demise.

Young “Gertie,” fell into the Puget Sound, where the bridge deck remains today. The first Tacoma Narrows Bridge would become a study in how not to build a bridge, with architecture and engineering universities and schools still teaching students about the flawed design.

After the first bridge fell, the current Tacoma Narrows Bridge was opened on Oct. 14, 1950.

• For a fascinating description of the bridge's history, collapse and even a video of it falling into the Puget Sound, visit:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacoma_Narrows_Bridge

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/TNBhistory/#2

http://www.enm.bris.ac.uk/anm/tacoma/tacoma.html

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