The last bridge in London I walked over was the Tower Bridge. It is by far the most elaborate bridge across the Thames. I had assumed it was also the oldest of the bridges I walked in London. It turns out that this was a false assumption. The current Tower Bridge was built in the 1890s. According to the dates I found online, Southwark Bridge (see Aug 5 post) is the oldest existing bridge I walked having opened in 1819.
The Tower Bridge is the last bridge across the Thames before it empties into the sea. The view downstream gives some indication of this as there are no bridges in sight and the views from all the other bridges showed either another vehicular bridge, underground bridge, or pedestrian bridge. That the Tower Bridge is the end of the bridges over the Thames is somewhat surprising to me because as the crow flies the mouth of the river is nearly forty miles away and as the river flows is even farther. There are some tunnels under the river between the Tower Bridge and the sea, including at least one pedestrian tunnel. I considered walking the pedestrian tunnel, but the idea of walking through a tunnel under a river seemed long, dark, and scary, and as I had already walked myself off my feet, I chose not to.
Some of the oldest parts of the city are near the Tower Bridge. The northern shore is where the infamous Tower of London is located. The Tower itself was built in 1078. Crossing the bridge and turning right are several very narrow, medieval-like lanes. Yet right near this old fabric is a very new development, situated almost directly across the Thames from the Tower of London, which from this view seems to include the controversial Shard skyscraper. The Shard is located near the end of the London Bridge so I believe there must be some separation between the new buildings in the foreground and the skyscraper. I understand that there is some controversy over the building as many people believed it was too close to the older fabric of the city where they wanted to maintain the historical building heights. In the midst of the historic neighborhoods I observed this skyscraper looms up as the current tallest building in Europe. According to an article about the official opening of the building on July4, one of the many features of this building is “double-decker lifts.” I feel like that is the kind of thing that I’m going to have to see it to believe it. How would a two-story elevator work? And why would you want a two-story one? I think it would only complicate things.
So ends the story of my journey walking across 13 bridges in London. Hope you’ve enjoyed it! For those interested in bridges, stay tuned as I continue to walk bridges in Pittsburgh and other cities. For those interested in London, I plan to post about the adaptively reused churches I found in London in the near future.