iscover the world’s greatest spans and the people who created them. What enables a simple arch bridge to support such great weight? What holds up a suspension bridge? Bridge the world with award-winning author-illustrator—and captivating storyteller—David Macaulay (The Way Things Work) and meet the brilliant designers who dared to extend roads and railways with ingenious but sometimes flawed designs. From the Golden Gate Bridge to some of the world’s groundbreaking spans, you’ll explore dozens of monumental engineering feats through historic film footage, fascinating photographs, illustrations and dramatic recreations. – Discover why the Brooklyn Bridge’s hard-working and humorless chief engineer never lived to see the completion of his masterpiece – Tower above the clouds on top of the Golden Gate Bridge and discover its controversial history, and see how its formidable suspension design handles brutal winds, tides, traffic, and earthquakes – Visit Scotland’s Firth of Forth Railway Bridge and learn how a deadly tragedy inspired the creation of this incredibly strong (and expensive) cantilevered steel design – Bonus activity! Build your own mini-bridge using only straws, straight pins, masking tape, scissors, and a baseball David Macaulay hosts Building Big, the five-part series that brings you the amazing truth behind the greatest manmade wonders of the world. From the top of the Golden Gate Bridge to inside the Hoover Dam, Building Big travels the world exploring Bridges, Tunnels, Dams, Skyscrapers and Domes in unforgettable, really big adventures. Includes bonus hands-on building activity designed for kids.
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Bridges, more than humanity's other nature-defying structures, demonstrate our need to connect, and that lends their builders a certain artistic, even romantic, credibility. So symbolic is the bridge-builder's occupation, we discover early on in this episode of the Building Big series, that worshipers whittled the early Italian term for the job into the current word Pope. They might have thought twice about doing so, however, had they foreseen how fierce and unforgiving a couple of modern masters of the trade turned out to be. Bridges spans the centuries, tracing the structures' evolution and ticking off major engineering breakthroughs tidily. But the bulk of the program deservedly dwells on two largely unlikable visionaries and their impossible-seeming accomplishments. Washington Roebling inherited the task of constructing the Brooklyn Bridge from his driven, exacting father in 1869; after developing the bends as a result of continuous unguarded ascents from the first-ever caisson (a miserable underwater working vessel), he commandeered the project from his bed for nine years, rarely emerging, even when the bridge was complete. Joseph Strauss, a drawbridge king with a Napoleon complex, won the commission to build San Francisco's Golden Gate and claimed the lion's share of credit for a consultant's design. Both stories paint vivid pictures of the painstaking, cutthroat process of joining land masses; the challenging Building Small project at tape's end further proves that bridge building, despite its poetic implications, is a profession better suited to scientific doers than fanciful dreamers. --Tammy La Gorce
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