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6th International Footbridge Conference
Berlin 6-8 September, 2017

The restoration of the iconic Shaw Bridge will be initiated in 2017 using a matching grant from New York State. Although built in 1870 for horses and carriages and later used by motorized vehicles, the restored bridge will be a footbridge. The long neglected Shaw Bridge is the best example of a Whipple Bowstring Truss bridge (patented in 1841) the first bridge design in the world that used scientific principles, by Squire Whipple, who published these principles (1846-47) in a book: A Work on Bridge Building. Designed for the Enlarged Erie Canal (1836-1862), hundreds were built for the canal and many others were built over waterways. The Shaw Bridge is one of only eight of the vintage Whipple Bowstring Truss bridges left, the lone one in its original location and the only double span. The bridge is clearly eligible for Historic Civil Engineering Landmark status and this paper will argue that it is a World Heritage Bridge candidate. Whipple’s importance cannot be overstated. Besides being one of the first to clearly document theoretical and mathematical principles for bridge design, he was critically important for the development of the Enlarged Erie Canal and early railway industry, helping make New York State and New York City become world leaders in the 19th century. The accurate restoration of the Shaw Bridge will be a fitting tribute to the genius of Squire Whipple whose extraordinary intellect and achievements were masked by his humility.

Download two page Abstract (611KB PDF)

Download ten page Full Paper (718KB PDF)

Download PowerPoint presentation (converted to PDF, 2MB)