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Friday, July 27, 2012

The Bridge That Othmar Built

Obama didn’t build the George Washington Bridge, but the terrorist his Muslim-brotherhood pals are trying to spring from Federal prison, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahmen certainly wanted to destroy it back in 1993.

Othmar Hermann Ammann was a Swiss-American structural engineer who designed the bridge.

Ammann was born in Schaffhausen, Switzerland in 1879. His father was a manufacturer and his mother was a hat maker. He received his engineering education at the Polytechnikum in Zurich, Switzerland.   He studied with Swiss engineer Wilhelm Ritter.  In 1904, he emigrated to the United States, spending his career working mostly in New York City.  In 1905, he briefly returned to Switzerland to marry Lilly Selma Wehrli. Together they had 3 children- Werner, George, and Margaret- before she died in 1933.  In 1924, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He then married Karly Vogt Noetzli in 1935 in California.

Ammann wrote two reports about bridge collapses, the collapse of the Quebec Bridge and the collapse of the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Galloping Gertie).  It was the report that he wrote about the failure of the Quebec in 1907 that first earned him recognition in the field of bridge design engineering. Because of this report, he was able to obtain a position working for Gustav Lindenthal on
the Hell Gate Bridge.  By 1925, he had been appointed bridge engineer to the Port of New York
Authority.  His design for a bridge over the Hudson River was accepted over one developed by his
mentor, Lindenthal.  Lindenthal's  “North River Bridge” – the Hudson was known as the North River at
that time - designs show an enormous, 16-plus lane bridge that would have accommodated pedestrians,
freight trains, rapid transit, and automobile traffic.  The bridge, which would have entered Manhattan at
57th Street, was rejected in favor of Ammann's designs primarily due to cost reasons.

Ultimately, this became the George Washington Bridge.  Under Ammann’s direction, it was completed
six months ahead of schedule for less than the original $60 million budget.  Ammann's designs for the
George Washington Bridge, and, later, the Bayonne Bridge, caught the attention of master builder,
Robert Moses, who drafted Ammann into his service.  The last four of Ammann's six New York City
bridges — Triborough, Bronx-Whitestone, Throgs Neck, and Verrazano-Narrows — were all built for
Moses' Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority.   

In 1946, Ammann and Charles Whitney founded the firm Ammam & Whitney. In 1964, Ammann
opened the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in New York that had the world’s longest suspended span of
 4,260 feet and the world's heaviest suspension of its time.  The Verrazano Narrows Bridge is currently
the eighth-longest span in the world and the longest span in the Western Hemisphere. Ammann also
assisted in the building of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, which is currently the
ninth-longest span.

Through his career, Ammann was the recipient of several awards including the Thomas Fitch Rowland
Prize (1919), the Metropolitan Section Civil Engineer of the Year (1958), the Ernest E. Howard Award
 (1960) and the National Medal of Science (1964).

Many men and women helped construct the bridge, but before anyone could lay a girder, someone had
to think of the design (which originally involved a cement casing but was left out due to budget
constraints during the Great Depression) – and that was one smart, hard-working legal immigrant, not
many – Othmar Ammann.

But it’s not one smart engineer who constructed the bridge whom Obama is heralding – Ammann died
in 1965, a year after the opening of the  Verrazano Narrows Bridge.  It’s the twisted radical Islamic
cleric Abdel Omar Rahmen and his evil masterminds who at least once planned to destroy the world’s
busiest bridge (named after our first president), whom our current president is said to be planning to set
free.

Just remember who built the George Washington Bridge – and who tried to destroy it.




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