Bridging the Piscataqua: Construction + Community, June 7-Oct 13

2013-02-20 10.27.47Bridging the Piscataqua: Construction + Community makes visible all bridges across the Piscataqua from the 1790s to today. This is a Portsmouth story of technological innovation that is told through the paintings, photographs and videos of the construction, operation, and demolition of these bridges over two centuries. Bridging the Piscataqua is an exhibit that represents the strength of community, industry and ingenuity.

The story begins with the first of its kind, the long pile Piscataqua Bridge jumping from shore to island to shore across Great and Little Bays in 1794. Following in her footsteps upriver was the 1822 Portsmouth Bridge – a private toll (and later railroad bridge) that one writer called a “queerly shaped bridge, which bends & squirms out of all shape or rule”.

Where: Discover Portsmouth Academy Gallery
Exhibit Runs: June 7-Oct 13, 2013
Hours: 10am – 5pm
Open Daily
Gallery Talks at 11AM: June 15th, July 13, Aug 3, Sept 7, Oct 9

The true Portsmouth icon is J.A.L Waddell’s 1923 memorial to those who fought in WWI. The Memorial Bridge allowed workers direct access to the Navy Yard in Kittery. Waddell was one of the world’s preeminent bridge designers and the developer of vertical lift bridges in the United States. Based on the success of Memorial Bridge and its two contemporaries in New Jersey, Waddell’s vertical lift design was adopted in locations throughout the world.

Later, the addition of the 1940 Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, named after a local woman who worked her entire career for the bridge commission, and the 1972 high level bridge for I-95 completed the crossing connections of the lower Piscataqua.

The eagerly-awaited Memorial Bridge designed by Theodore P. Zoli III slated to open in July 2013. Constructed by Archer-Western, the design reuses the original 1922 piers as the base for the modern supports. Cresting above the Portsmouth portal the new bridge will continue to display the 1924 memorial tablet and beaux arts decoration fabricated by the Gorham Bronze Company of Providence.

The new Memorial Bridge is where cutting edge design meets innovative engineering. It is the first truss bridge built without gusset plates connecting its major members and instead uses identical metal sections that are spliced together. It also introduces cold bending of steel to bridge construction, a submarine building technique pioneered by the U.S. Navy. While the 1922 Memorial Bridge was originally painted black and later repainted green, its new replacement is coated with zinc, a longer lasting protective surface that does not need painting.

On the second floor of the Academy Gallery is an additional exhibit showcasing local artists and contemporary paintings, photographs and sculpture. The Bridges of Portsmouth: A Celebration of the Bridges over the Piscataqua River will reflect on interpretations and responses to all of these iconic Portsmouth structures. This show will feature two juried exhibitions curated by owner Wendy Clement of Kennedy Gallery and all works will be available for sale.