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Preview The Great Cooper River Bridge

Cover Page: Cover Title Page Page: iii Copyright Page: iv Dedication Page: v Contents Page: vii Illustrations and Tables Page: ix Acknowledgments Page: xiii Introduction Page: xv Chapter One: The Dream Page: 1 The First Bridge: The Ashley River Bridge Page: 2 The Coney Island of the South Page: 4 Sullivan’s Island Page: 12 New Owners, New Dreams Page: 16 Chapter Two: Change Comes to Charleston Page: 22 The Naval Base and Tourism Page: 23 The Great Debate: A Private or Public Bridge Page: 32 Chapter Three: John Patrick Grace Page: 35 Charleston Roots Page: 35 Grace in Public Life Page: 37 The Burden of a Lawyer Page: 40 Chapter Four: Building the Bridge Page: 44 Selecting a Location Page: 44 Waddell and Hardesty, Bridge Engineers Page: 46 Selecting a Bridge Design Page: 48 A Cantilevered Truss Page: 52 The Bridge Is Built Page: 56 Tragedy Strikes Page: 63 Construction of the Superstructure Page: 67 The Completed Bridge Page: 72 Chapter Five: Hope and Despair Page: 78 The “Great Cooper River Bridge” Is Opened Page: 78 The Hopes of the ’20s, the Reality of the ’30s Page: 88 Purchase and Repurchase Page: 93 The Bridge Is Free Page: 95 Chapter six: The Bridge Comes of Age Page: 98 The Nicaragua Victory and Tragedy Page: 99 Growth of East Cooper Page: 102 Mishaps and Memories Page: 108 The New Cooper River Bridge Page: 110 The Bridge Run Page: 113 The End of the Bridges Page: 117 Epilogue Page: 125 Appendix Page: 127 Notes Page: 131 Bibliography Page: 139 Index Page: 141


A comprehensive history of one of Charleston's most significant landmarks

On a hot summer day in 1929, the citizens of Charleston, South Carolina, participated in one of the largest celebrations in the city's history—the opening of the Cooper River Bridge. After years of quarrels, financial obstructions, and political dogfights, the great bridge was completed, and for the first time, Charleston had a direct link to the north. From the doldrums of the Depression to the growth of the 1990s, the Cooper River Bridge played a vital role in Charleston's transformation from an impoverished, isolated city to a vibrant and prosperous metropolis.

Now obsolete and no longer adequately serving the needs of the Charleston area, the "old" Cooper River Bridge, and the "new" Silas N. Pearman Bridge—the Cooper River Bridge's larger sister structure, erected in 1966—will be replaced. Funding, design, and construction are presently underway to replace the old structure with a single, modern bridge. The two original bridges have become true emblems of Charleston, much like the Eiffel Tower of Paris or the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco. With their removal, Charleston will lose two of its most significant landmarks.

This vast change in the city's skyline is sure to evoke memories from Charlestonians and visitors who have developed a special relationship with the old bridge. In addition to these reminiscences, the Cooper River Bridge has its own story—one of ambitious men and their dreams of profit, and of a city's dreams of prosperity. Upon its completion, the Cooper River Bridge was a grand symbol of Charleston's vision for the future, and the bridge recalls many significant themes in the modern history of the city.

The Great Cooper River Bridge provides the complete history of this architectural icon, exploring how early twentieth-century Charleston helped shape the bridge, and how the bridge subsequently shaped the city. With more than eighty photographs, this illustrated volume documents a remarkable engineering feat and a distinctive structure before it becomes a memory.

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