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    Postcard from London

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    The Golden Jubilee Bridges, designed by architects Lifschutz Davidson, provide a delightful walk across London's River Thames. Photography by Don Barker.

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    Dear ArchitectureWeek,

    In July 2003, the Hungerford footbridges, which have brought about a major improvement to the London pedestrian's journey across the River Thames, were renamed the Golden Jubilee Bridges to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's coronation.

    The new footbridges replace a narrow, angst-ridden walkway that ran along the Hungerford Railway Bridge. It only took one person to stop to admire the view of St. Paul's Cathedral to turn the narrow walkway into a traffic jam of pedestrians.

    The new scheme, designed by architects Lifschutz Davidson, consists of two twin cable-stayed footbridges suspended from pylons on either side of the Charing Cross-bound rail bridge. The designers have fulfilled their brief from Westminster City Council by opening the link between the entertainment centers in London's West End and Southbank, and by completing the "tourist triangle" of the Westminster Palaces, Mark Barfield Associates' London Eye, and the newly revamped Trafalgar Square by Foster and Partners. The new bridges positively encourage people to walk across them, with their wide, inviting promenades.

    The crossing dates from 1845 when Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed a suspension footbridge to serve Hungerford Market at Charing Cross. Shortly afterward, the market became the site for Charing Cross Station, and a new bridge was built replacing the suspension bridge, which was taken to Bristol to become part of Clifton Suspension Bridge. Although the foot crossing was retained, the railway company claimed that few crossed the old bridge due to the river's stench. It is now expected that 7 million visitors will walk across the new bridges every year.

    Yours from London,
    Don Barker

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