The Origins of The Suspension Bridge


Forms of suspension bridge have been used since prehistory. This type of bridge hangs a weight from pillars or outcroppings rather than being supported by piles, which means that a simple vine tied at both ends over a gap counts. This is not, however, an easy bridge to use to transport anything but a single person.
More modern suspension bridges rely on metal chains to suspend decks that can carry foot or vehicle traffic. These were not possible before decent iron was produced, and a Venetian, Fausto Veranzio, is credited for the first recorded modern suspended bridge design featuring iron chains in a 1595 publication.

The first major suspension bridge, built to the techniques of James Finley’s 1808 patent, was the 176 meters long Menai Suspension Bridge, which is still in use. While the iron has been replaced by steel bar links, this proves the durability and reliability of this design.

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