Mackinac Bridge Walk
Every Labor Day the Mackinac Bridge Authority opens up the Mighty Mac to pedestrian traffic for a half-century old Michigan tradition, the annual Mackinac Bridge Walk. The Bridge Walk presents bridge building and engineering enthusiasts with a unique and rare opportunity to get a close-up look at one of the world’s most revolutionary structures that’s normally viewable only from a great distance or within the confines of a moving automobile.
Construction of the Mackinac Bridge began in 1954 and it opened to traffic in November of ’57. According to the Bridge’s website, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it opened and currently ranks as the third, behind two bridges completed in 1998. In-depth research, however, reveals varying standards by which bridges are measured, the most common being the distance between the two main spans. Check out this Wikipedia entry for a more accurate analysis of where the Mac really stands among the world’s longest, using this most common measurement standard. In any case, The Mighty Mac still ranks as the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere when measured from anchorage to anchorage. (Click here if ya think an anchorage is just some town in Alaska, fool).
Construction of the Bridge was such a mammoth undertaking that U.S. Steel created a new “American Bridge” division within their already huge corporation solely to manage and implement the fabrication of “the various shapes, plates, bars, wire and cables of steel necessary for the superstructure and for the caissons and cofferdams of the foundation”. U.S. Steel‘s contract for its work on the bridge was valued at $44.5 million, while the Merritt-Chapman & Scott Corporation was awarded a $23.7 million contract to build the Mac’s foundations.
The Mac’s designer, David B. Steinman, grew up in the shadow of the legendary Brooklyn Bridge and later in life developed an interest in poetry. Read one of his most famous poems, “Brooklyn Bridge – Nightfall”, in its entirety here. He is also credited with having said, “A bridge is a poem stretched across a river, a symphony of stone and steel”, which strikes us as a fitting epitaph for a man who designed one of the world’s greatest. ~I♥DM
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