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On Bridges

0F all structures which man has made to satisfy his needs, the bridge is that in which he has been aesthetically most successful, and, perhaps, structurally least. From the beginning of recorded history, you have in long succession the tale of bridges breaking down and swept away, till the accident becomes a commonplace compared with the failure of other structures. You have further a limit to effort, very clearly marked; the effort to obtain height or majesty through width or length of unbroken emptiness in other forms of structure, has been an effort successfully progressive and often rapidly progressive. But bridges, even for the overcoming of comparatively small obstacles, were felt to be a special triumph. There was a temptation to make them do more than the art of the time allowed. One can point to a score of places in Western Europe (Avignon is the most famous) where th3 effort was vanquished, and to hundreds where what looks to-day like the surmounting ot but a trifling span or height was looked on as a marvel, and carries to this day some nickname connoting astonishment. Hilaire Belloc

Author(s): Belloc, Hilaire

Keywords: bridges;aesthetics;philosophy