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Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse

On November 7, 1940, the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed due to 40 mph winds. During its construction, which began in September of 1938, the bridge frequently swayed in windy conditions, but attempts to fix this problem were unsuccessful. When it was built, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was the third longest suspension bridge in the world. In order to save money, the architects designed the bridge to have short and narrow girders, but this meant that the bridge was not properly supported and would move up and down in the wind. Soon after the bridge was opened in July of 1940, studies were done to see if there was a way to reduce the sway of the bridge, but the bridge collapsed before any action could be taken. While no human lives were lost in the collapse, a cocker spaniel dog died when he could not be rescued from an abandoned car before the bridge collapsed. Due to World War II, a replacement bridge was not completed until October 13, 1950, and in 2007 a parallel bridge was built due to increased traffic.

Items in Our Collection:

 Catastrophe to Triumph: bridges of the Tacoma Narrows by Richard S Hobbs

In the wake of Tacoma: suspension bridges and the quest for aerodynamic stability by Richard Scott

Understanding Bridge Collapses

by B Akesson