This bridge is considered by the New Jersey Historic Bridge Inventory to be one of the finest and most well-preserved historic suspension bridges in the country, and it is hard to disagree.
Although it did not hold the record for very long, the Ben Franklin Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when completed. It's span length was surpassed by the Ambassador Bridge a few years later. Modjeski and Masters were also involved with the Ambassador Bridge as consulting engineers, so in a sense the company beat their own record.
HistoricBridges.org currently has only a partial photo-documentation of this bridge, which was focused on overview photos from the New Jersey side of the bridge, taking advantage of good weather conditions. A such, a nice collection of overview elevation and beside the bridge photos are available. A series of in-car photos of moderate quality are provided as well. HistoricBridges.org hopes to revisit the bridge sometime in the future and complete the documentation with a full set of detail photos including expanded and improved on-bridge views.
This bridge is considered one of Ralph Modjeski's crowning achievements. The bridge's beautiful aesthetics, which are integrated with the functioning structure of the bridge summarize Modjeski's feelings about bridge aesthetics. In regards to bridge aesthetics, Modjeski was quoted in 1898 as follows:
There seems to be a prevalent idea among even some of the best engineers of our country that the addition of a few cast iron stars, bent bars, perforated plates in the portals or corkscrews on the hips will make any bridge look handsome. If the skeleton of the bridge or of any structure is not designed aesthetically, such petty ornaments only make things worse and should always be discouraged. It is impossible to take the skeleton of a hunchback and make an Apollo of him by covering it with any amount of beautiful flesh and skin. If a structure is to be beautiful its aesthetic side must be given equal importance and attention with its stability. Both have to guide the designer from the very conception of the project; the skeleton must be built in harmony with the ornaments. Source: Journal of the Western Society of Engineers, Volume 3, 1898. Comments contributed by Modjeski in response to a paper read about park bridges.
Information and Findings From New Jersey's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
When completed in 1926 the Camden-Philadelphia Bridge, as it was originally known, ranked as the longest suspension bridge in the world. The handsome structure, designed by Ralph Modjeski and architect Paul Certe, was the single most influential structure in the subsequent development of Camden and the surrounding area. The span remains as one of the finest and best preserved important suspension bridges in the country and is one of Modjeski's most significant works.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
Built in 1926 as the first bridge across the Delaware River at Philadelphia, the handsome suspension bridge connects downtown Camden with Center City Philadelphia. Neither approach is via modern, limited access highways. The bridge links the centers of both cities.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):
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