April 20, 2004
Does Society Rely on Bridges?
Society has always relied on transportation to survive. When man first walked the earth he relied on himself for transportation. Eventually man learned to tame wild animals and use them as a form of transportation. And finally he created machines to take him places he could not reach on his own or with the assistance of any animal. But throughout the evolution of transportation maps and roads were developed to mark the locations of routes taken between cities and prominent locations existed. One invention developed to expand the reach of travelers was the bridge. The earliest bridges were based on anything seen in nature such as fallen trees and eroded earth or rocks. They were developed to provide a safe crossing for people, originally on foot but later on horse back and then mechanized transportation, to travel from one prominent city of industrial strength to another. Although for many centuries boats were still the main form of transportation over distances of water. In Henry Petroski's book, Engineers of Dreams, he discusses significance of bridges and bridge engineering in history by connecting then back to the Stone Age and analyzing the impact they have had on society. Petroski analyzes the issues, insensitivity and wonder people in society have with the structures. He focuses mainly on the bridges built in the United States during the bridge building era from eighteen-seventies through the nineteen-thirties because they were the years of the industrial revolution in America and bridges were in proving the rate of transportation of goods. One strong point Petroski make is that bridges are the "symbols and souls' of our society. This is possibly correct because as Americans were are fascinated by the construction of enormous structures that tower over cities and connect one aspect of our society to another. He not only shows how bridges...
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