Bridges
ARE 02 - 02 - 2010

Communities are often established near a source of water. People like to celebrate the water, filling the spans with artistic bridges. Ponte Rialto is the oldest bridge in Venice and remains the most popular bridge. The bridge once coincided with a market, and now begins and ends with a plaza. It is a large pedestrian bridge with a wall of shops on both sides. Initially, a person may not realize they are on a bridge, if it was not for its incline to allow boats to pass underneath, in the otherwise flat venetian streets. At first it seems like an upscale street of stores, until the apex of the bridge where both sides open up tp a view of the Grand Canal of Venice. Just as Ponte Rialto has become an architectural icon of Venice, Ponte Vecchio is a landmark of Florence, recognized by its barnacle-like shops on both sides. Ponte Vecchio begins and ends with an intersection and is anchored with tourist attractions on either end. Because of its popularity, the bridge has been closed off from traffic and is a large pedestrian bridge. It is similar to Ponte Rialto, lined on both sides with stores until the center of the bridge, where it opens up on both sides to a view of the river running through Florence. Though both these cities have a number of bridges, they both have a single iconic bridge, which each offer five of the seven elements of a successful public space ľall in a single spans over water and passing boats. The elements include relation to a street, water feature, human scale, people watching, and a happening. The two missing elements, seating and eating, can be found near the bridge. One reason these places intrigue people is because there is so much activity in an unusual place. To the right is a sketch of Ponte Rialto on top and Ponte Vecchio on the bottom. The image below is a view from the center of Ponte Vecchio. The fence on the bridge is covered in locks with the names of people who have been there.

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