Bridge with beacons

Плавучий маяк "Ирбенский"

Bridge with beacons in St.Petersburg

One may find beautiful river lights in St.Petersburg not only on Vassilievsky island

In 1901 the municipal government of St.Petersburg opened an international tender to build a new bridge connecting the cdowntown with its eastern suburb on the Ohta river. The bridge was supposed to fit into the scenery dominated by Smolny cathederal, to be economical and fast in construction. Also it had to accomodate the 22-tonn tramway cars and projected intra-city railway that was never concieved. No viable projects were submitted to that tender. 

Military engineers Grigoriy Krivoshein and Vladimir Apyshkov ignored the tender requirements. They shifted the drawn span of the bridge from the western bank of the river to the river stirrup and placed the arches of the bridge not underneath the motorway, but above it (compare to Liteyniy and Troitsky bridges). The arches were supposed to be so huge so only two supports were needed to be built on the river bed. This made shipping safer and the whole project costed less than expected by the municipality. The stone lighthouse-looking towers built on the supports hid the machinery that drawn the bridge. Engineer Krivoshein was summoned to promote his project named "Freedom to Shipping", what he accomplished with excellence.

In the beginniong of the past century Russian engineers were not supposed to deliver unique projects that had no analogues in the world. So Krivoshein studied interesting foreign projects, namely - bridge across Southern Elbe in Hamburg and the Hansa Bridge in Stettin (then German Empire), the latter also had towers by the drawn span of the bridge to resist the ice drift, but with no extensive decoration.

The huge steel arches and the massive stone towers designed in Northern Modern style earned fierce opposition during the project approval. The municipal officials insisted on having the architectural design split from the technical part of the project, but Krivoshein, as the author, refused and claimed that his, with Apyshkov, common design is to take or leave as is. Now the bridge looks like a natural part of the city skyline, but over 100 years ago it was a brave architectural experiment. 

Metal frame was deliovered by the Rudzsky and Company, a Warsaw-based firm (then - Russian Empire) that was known to have delivered frames for the Siberian railway bridges. Their constructions required no capital maintennance for about a century. After WWI broke out this firm was evacuated to the Ukraine. The drawn span of the bridge was concieved in St.Petersburg.

Krivoshein and Apyshkov are co-authors of the Finlandsky railway bridge (1912) in St.Petersburg and Rusanovsky bridge in Kiev (1906). After 1917 Russian Revolution broke out and succeeded, both did cooperate with the newly-established communist rule. Apyshkov was employed in construction and academia in the USSR, he died in Leningrad in 1939. Krivoshein offered Lenin to build a hydroelectric power plant on Volkhov river and was appointed its chief engineer, but in 1919 he was arrested on false denunciation. Later he was set free on request of the Red Cross, and in 1921 he emigrated to Czekhoslovakia via Finland, but as nazis seized that country he had to flee again across the Europe. Unfortunately, none of these two notable engineers have earned much memory in St.Petersburg. Their names, however, are present on the memorial plates that were renewed on the bridge during the last capital mainennance. 

Anton Ivanov, 2018


Photo gallery of the bridge