June 10 – The Millennium Bridge Opens

Posted on June 10, 2015

It was the year 2000 – and people couldn't help being inspired by all those zeroes, and a whole new “millennium” (thousand years) beginning.

Many nations and major cities had projects that could be unveiled that year, and London in the United Kingdom was no different:

  • It opened the Millennium Dome, with a major exhibition called the Millennium Experience on display for the entire year 2000.

  • It opened the world's tallest Ferris world, the London Eye (aka the Millennium Wheel).

  • It opened the Tate Modern, a modern art gallery.

  • And it opened the Millennium Bridge!

The bridge was not designed for cars. Well, actually, it sort of WAS designed for cars, and that was a problem, because it should have been designed for people on foot. It was, after all a footbridge.

Let me explain:

The Millennium Bridge was the first new crossing of the River Thames in over 100 years. People could cross by foot from the Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern over to the City of London School and St. Paul's Cathedral, or vice versa.

However, the builders used computer software typical for a car bridge in designing this footbridge. People walking and cars driving are different sorts of movements, and the bridge developed an unexpected “wobble” that caused people to walk “in step” with one another (without meaning to), and the people walking in step with one another caused the wobble to increase!

This was not only unexpected, it was potentially dangerous. The bridge was closed, and structural damping was added. The bridge was re-opened in 2002.

So, even though the bridge had been designed to hold up to 5,000 people at one time, just 2,000 people actually walking on the bridge (which, after all, was the whole point) became very uncomfortable...more of a “white knuckle ride” than we want to experience in a bridge!

But don't worry. Next time you go to London, feel free to use the Millennium Bridge – it's all fixed now!

Also on this date:

Abolition of Slavery Day in French Guiana 

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