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The Bridges of New Jersey

Portraits of Garden State Crossings

Steven M. Richman

Publication Year: 2005

New Jersey is sandwiched between the Hudson and Delaware Rivers, with the Raritan, Passaic, and Navesink cutting swaths across it. In spite of the state's relatively small size, over six thousand bridges span its varied landscape. They traverse rivers, streams, railroads, and roadways. Several dozen bridges cut across the Delaware River alone, carrying pedestrian, vehicular, and railroad traffic. Three connect the state to Staten Island. Some are steeped in history, dating back to the colonial era and the Revolutionary war. Others are recognized worldwide for their size or significance in the annals of engineering.

In The Bridges of New Jersey, Steven M. Richman provides a rare photographic and poetic journey across sixty of the state's bridges, ranging from impressive suspension spans such as the Ben Franklin and George Washington Bridges, to the small wrought iron and stone bridges that are cherished by local citizens. The book provides a rich diversity of stories that place the bridges in the context of New Jersey history and culture. Richman also explores the contribution New Jersey bridges have made to engineering-some of the most prominent engineers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries either lived or established businesses in the Garden State or designed its bridges.

Lavishly illustrated with over seventy photographs, this book is much more than a documentary survey. It is a visual portrait that beautifully captures the metaphoric significance and aesthetic pleasures of New Jersey's bridges, and indeed all bridges. Perhaps more than any other structure built by humans, bridges typify progress and they give us a sense of connectedness. The Bridges of New Jersey provides a compelling visual demonstration of these symbolic functions, as well as their practical purposes and engineering accomplishments.


Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. xi-xviii

This book is intended as a testament to the aesthetic and engineering achievements found in the bridges of New Jersey. It is also a personal commentary on this most original, misunderstood, and occasionally peculiar of states. New Jersey is a breathing paradox. Nicknamed the Garden State for its agrarian roots, it is also one of the most densely populated and industrialized of states. Although often mocked and stereotyped in popular American culture, ...

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pp. 1-22

Each of us has an individual experience and reaction to bridges. There is the immediate pride in the human achievement of erecting something tangible, lasting, and beneficial to humanity. On further reflection, we also recognize that a bridge has positive connotations when used as a metaphor for linking two places, ideas, per- sons, groups, and so forth. ...

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Arch Bridges

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pp. 23-54

The simplest and most primitive bridge is undoubtedly a plank or tree laid across a stream, supported by the land at each end and perhaps by a series of rocks placed in the stream. However, there are problems with beam bridges. Unless they are supported regularly, their reach is limited; ...

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Truss Bridges

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pp. 56-90

Trusses are used to stiffen and support a bridge, and do so by distributing the loads and forces that act upon the bridge in accordance with the positioning of the members. In other words, vertical, horizontal, and diagonal “members” absorb the tensile and compressive forces. When a truss component is placed in “tension,” ...

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Covered Bridges

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pp. 91-93

Sometimes called “kissing bridges,” because of their concealing features, covered bridges often have romantic connotations. However, the primary purpose of a cover over the deck and trusses of a wooden bridge was to shield them from snow and rain, and therefore decay and rot. Eric Sloan, in his classic American Barns and Covered Bridges, ...

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Cantilever Bridges

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pp. 94-109

The cantilever bridge was a popular type in New Jersey in the first half of the twentieth century. In cantilever construction, the bridge can be built from both sides of the crossing simultaneously, either meeting or having a final center span put into place to link the two extended “diving board” spans. ...

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Suspension Bridges

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pp. 110-127

In the prototypical suspension bridge, the deck is suspended by cables made of rope, steel, or some other material, which themselves are draped over towers and anchored at either end of the crossing. Modern suspension bridges have the anchored cables carried over large supporting towers, with a separate set of cables or wires holding up the deck below. Because it does not need intermediate piers to support the deck, ...

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Movable Bridges

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pp. 128-146

Movable bridges, as the name implies, change position in whole or in part to allow traffic to pass below or around them. The concept is not new. As early as the sixteenth century, Leonardo da Vinci designed a “very light yet rugged” movable bridge for military purposes. The basic types are the bascule, swing, and lift bridges. ...

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Girder Bridges

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pp. 147-152

From approximately 1915 through 1955, the most common type of highway bridge built throughout much of the United States was the steel girder bridge. The girder is a form of beam bridge in which the deck slab is supported by certain types of beams or girders. Wooden timbers were shaped into girders until iron, steel, and reinforced concrete came along. ...

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Concluding Words

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pp. 153-154

More than any other public structure, the bridge is transparent. In the case of most bridges, one can walk or ride over them. Others—railroad freight bridges, for example—can only be viewed. Unlike buildings, whose interiors are often inaccessible except to those who work or conduct business in them, bridges may be observed in their entirety. ...


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pp. 155-168


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pp. 169-178

About The Author

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p. 179-179

E-ISBN-13: 9780813537825
E-ISBN-10: 0813537827
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813535104

Page Count: 198
Publication Year: 2005