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Bridging the Thames

The first London Bridge
Rennie's London Bridge
The window into the port
Tower Bridge
A symbol of London
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A symbol of London

A vital link

Tower Bridge.
View full size imageThe Upper Pool and Tower Bridge. © NMM

Once Tower Bridge was open, the early doubts and controversies soon melted away.

The bridge immediately became a vital link between the City and the south bank of the Thames.

Tower Bridge.
View full size imageAn early postcard of Tower Bridge. © NMM
It proved perfectly able to accommodate shipping in the Upper Pool. In the heyday of the port, its bascules were raised thousands of times each year.




A much-loved landmark

Tower Bridge (1895), by W.L. Wyllie.
View full size imageTower Bridge, by W.L. Wyllie. © NMM

Apart from its important practical functions, Tower Bridge also became a familiar and much-loved landmark, and a favourite subject for photographers and artists.



Looking towards Tower Bridge and the fires in the East End.
View full size imageLooking towards Tower Bridge and the fires in the East End. © NMM
Just as the Eiffel Tower (completed five years before Tower Bridge) came to symbolize Paris and France, so Tower Bridge came to symbolize London and Britain for many people.



The UB155 at Tower Bridge, London.
View full size imageThe U155 at Tower Bridge. © NMM

Because of its unique silhouette, Tower Bridge is often photographed for its own sake.

It has also been used as a background in countless tourist holiday snaps and carefully positioned publicity shots. 

Women in bathing costumes at Tower Bridge.
View full size imageA 1947 publicity shot. © NMM

It is one of the most familiar structures in Britain. Like the dome of St Paul's Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament and double-decker buses, Tower Bridge instantly conveys a sense of London.



The pedestrian walkways 

A scene from the launch of PortCities.
View full size imageA scene from the launch of PortCities. © NMM

Few people used the pedestrian walkways, which were closed in 1910.

They had proved too convenient for publicity seekers and would-be suicides who wanted to jump into the Thames.

Nowadays they provide publicity of a more useful kind. The UK launch of PortCities was held here in September 2003.



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