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"with their massive steel columns and hundreds of thousands of rivets"

We have a fantastic example of that near Edinburgh:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forth_Bridge




Wasn't that bridge intentionally designed to not only be robust, but to look as imposing and robust as possible, in order to reassure the public since the previous bridge in the location had collapsed?

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Yes they certainly succeeded in making it look robust! You are correct in saying that this desire was based on a previous accident where a bridge collapsed - although it a bridge in a different location (over the Firth of Tay at Dundee rather than the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tay_Bridge_disaster

One interesting thing if you like Science Fiction is that Iain (M) Banks grew up in North Queensferry, which is right under the north end of the Forth Bridge - which completely dominates the wee town. I remember hearing in an interview that Iain claimed that his fascination with megastructures (e.g. Culture GSVs and Orbitals) probably came from growing up in an environment dominated by a Victorian megastructure.

He even set one of his novels on a fictionalized mega-sized version of the Forth Bridge:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bridge_%28novel%29

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Reminded me of the first arch bridge in the world to be made of cast iron, built in the 1770s and still standing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Iron_Bridge

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