Waibaidu Bridge, called the Garden Bridge in English, is known as “Grandma’s Bridge” among Shanghai locals. The bridge has featured in many movies. With its rich history and unique design, Waibaidu Bridge has always been a landmark of Shanghai and one of the few constants in the city skyline.
Waibaidu Bridge, which spans Suzhou Creek, was built in 1907. It was the first steel truss bridge built in China and the only surviving example of camelback truss bridge in the country. Its predecessor was a wooden float bridge built in 1873.
Waibaidu Bridge has undergone a massive relocation and maintenance program, which necessitated an almost extinct technique – riveting. After an intensive nationwide search, technicians dedicated to such technique were finally gathered together for the procedure that was applied to the original construction a hundred years ago.
After completion of the restoration, Waibaidu Bridge has become not only a busy thoroughfare but also an attraction. The bridge, from all available angles, has served as a model for a great many photographers, and many newlyweds like to take wedding photos here. Waibaidu Bridge is most charming at twilight.
History of Waibaidu Bridge
1856: The first generation
Sponsored by a British entrepreneur Wills, a wooden bridge named after him was constructed across the Suzhou Creek. The Wills’ Bridge is known as the first-generation Garden Bridge.
1873: The second generation
A new flying bridge was built by Shanghai Municipal Council 10 meters west of Wills’ Bridge, therefore giving birth to the second-generation Garden Bridge.
1907: The third generation
Shanghai Municipal Council replaced the wood bridge with a new steel one and abolished bridge tolls, and therefore the new structure became known as “Garden Bridge”, namely Outer Toll-free Bridge. It is the first all-steel bridge in Shanghai.
On March 1, the bridge was closed. After traffic was blocked, construction workers uninstalled water pipes and other utility lines, removed surface decks, and finally moved the bridge accordingly. On April 7, the bridge was relocated. After 101 years of service, the bridge left the Bund, where it had spend a century, and was transported to Minsheng Road pier for a complete overhaul.
At the beginning of 2009, the bridge was restored. After the restoration, the bridge still looks old, with the original appearance. But it is stronger and would last for another 50 years.