[Image: As if a lighter-than-air geometric fluid became temporarily frozen between two gateways of masonry, it’s just a bridge over the Norderelbe in Hamburg, Germany; photograph by Georg Koppmann (1888) from the collection of the Hamburg Museum, via Hamburger Architektur Sommer 2015, as spotted by Wassmann Foundation].
[Image: Saltair, photographed ca. 1901, courtesy of the Library of Congress].
[Image: Via Google Maps].
Although the original building, seen in the topmost image, burned down in 1925, it was replaced by another behemoth architectural complex that later appeared in the film Carnival of Souls.
But it’s the sheer nature of piers—those bridges to nowhere, promising endless extensions of dry land over even the most abyssal of drowned landscapes—that captures my interest here, with Saltair promising something like an American Oil Rocks, that labyrinth of platforms and elevated roadways that snakes out, and out, and out, into the Caspian Sea, only, in this case, styled like some Renaissance palace of cupolas and domes, with rumors that it’s so vast, its furthest rooms have yet to be visited.
Photographer Gisela Erlacher has been documenting “the spaces found hidden underneath highways and flyovers across Europe and China,” as seen in the many photos posted over at Creative Boom. “Each photograph reveals not only her own fascination with these massive concrete monstrosities, but also her interest in how they’re now being used by the people who choose to wedge themselves into these forgotten areas.”
[Image: An otherwise unrelated shot of rebar used in road construction; via Wikipedia].
A quick news item from last month seems worth mentioning: “approximately 3,400 confiscated firearms” are being melted down and turned into rebar to be used for bridge and highway construction projects throughout the American Southwest.
As Global Construction Review reported, “The weapons will be melted into steel reinforcing bar, better known as ‘rebar,’ and transformed into elements of construction for upgrades in freeways and bridges in Arizona, California and Nevada.”
The event where this occurs is known as the “annual gun-melt,” and its future byproducts will be coming soon to a highway crossing near you: former armaments, from swords to plowshares, embedded in our everyday landscape.
From the annals of moving large objects come two stories, one of a rock, the other a bridge.
A very large boulder is on its way to Los Angeles, we read in the New York Times this morning: a 340-ton rock on a journey moving “through the heart of one of the most congested urban centers in the country: nine nights at six miles an hour, through 120 miles of roads, highways, bridges, overpasses, overhead wires, alarmingly low-hanging traffic lights and sharp turns.”
The rock is going there for an installation by artist Michael Heizer, called “Levitated Mass,” and it was “dynamited out of a hillside” 60 miles from Los Angeles.
[Image: The rock in question; photo by Monica Almeida, courtesy of the The New York Times].
“The effort, nearly five years in the planning (though Mr. Heizer has been making sketches of it as far back as the late 1960s), feels nothing short of a military movement: an incursion through a bewildering thicket of state, city and county regulations and a region with a notoriously difficult street grid,” Adam Nagourney writes in the New York Times.
In fact, the rock’s specific route never relied on one path through that “bewildering thicket,” but has been constantly updated and changed; as Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where Heizer’s rock will be displayed, points out, “the State of California is always reviewing the state of its bridges and roads. So a route plan that would have worked a couple of days ago doesn’t work today.”
This has the effect of doubling the distance covered: “Door to door,” Nagourney writes, “the distance is 60 miles, though the actual drive is going to be closer to 120 miles, as engineers plot a route that can accommodate the huge size of what is known as the Prime Mover, and one that steers clear of low bridges and wires. Any route must have stopover spots to park the rock as it waits for night.”
[Image: Photo by Monica Almeida, courtesy of the The New York Times].
The museum’s $10 million boulder-displacement project has, of course, faced some public criticism—but Govan has a response for that: “we are putting more people to work here in L.A. than Obama,” he quips. This includes “teams of workers… deployed to lift telephone and power lines, swing traffic lights to the side and lay down steel plates on suspect patches of roads or bridges.”
Read more at the New York Times.
Elsewhere, meanwhile, thieves have dismantled and stolen an entire steel bridge near Pittsburgh. “Pennsylvania State Police are looking for a steel bridge worth an estimated $100,000 that was dismantled and taken from a rural area in Lawrence County,” we read. “Police said they believe a torch was used to cut apart the bridge, which measured 50 feet by 20 feet, near Covert’s Crossing in North Beaver Township.”
If you see the bridge—or its parts—moving slowly down a remote Appalachian road somewhere, I’m sure the police would appreciate a heads up.
(Bridge story via @wired).