The History of London Tower Bridge
By the late 1800s, London's East End had grown to the point that a new bridge across the Thames was needed to accommodate the excessive traffic. The design proposed by Sir Horace Jones and Sir John Wolfe-Barry not only addressed the city's transportation crisis but also gave London one of its most recognizable landmarks.
Tower Bridge took eight years to build and opened to the public in 1894 by the Prince of Wales (who would become King Edward VII) and his wife. It's the Thames' only movable bridge.
The center span of this 800-foot bridge contains two "arms" that can be hydraulically raised to accommodate passing ships. The twin spans that bookend the center are stationary suspension bridges.
When originally built, the power source that operated the center section of Tower Bridge was steam. In 1976, the steam-driven pumps were replaced by electrical generators but are still on public display.
Tower Bridge has only been red, white and blue since Queen Elizabeth II's 25th anniversary as reigning monarch in 1976. Before that, it was a dull dark brown.
In 1952, a double-decker bus was on the south side of the bridge when it started to rise. The driver accelerated to avoid plunging into the Thames and landed intact on the north side of the structure.
Tower Bridge's insurer, Lloyd's of London, classifies the structure as a ship. Until 1917, former sailors and soldiers were the only ones allowed to be employed on it.
Ghostwriter and film consultant Christina Hamlett has written professionally since 1970. Her credits include many books, plays, optioned features, articles and interviews. Publishers include HarperCollins, Michael Wiese Productions, "PLAYS," "Writer's Digest" and "The Writer." She holds a B.A. in communications (emphasis on audience analysis and message design) from California State University, Sacramento. She also travels extensively and is a gourmet chef.