There has been a bridge on this site over the Thames--a span of about 870 feet--for over 1900 years. The Romans built the first wooden structure around 80 AD. Many wooden structures followed. Some burning down, some being pulled down by Vikings, and even a rogue tornado. Henry II's Brethern of the Bridge guild was responsible for keeping it in order, but after the last wooden bridge fell, they put up a stone bridge, and it has been of stone ever after--until recently. The first stone bridge of arches was built in 1176 and stood for 622 years. Because land was at a premium, 138 shops and houses, and even a chapel were constructed on the bridge, their foundations cantilivering over the edge with sometimes dangerous consequences. The bridge was its own parish, and tolls were exacted to cross its span from greater London to Southwark. After many fires and other catastrophes, a new bridge was constructed right next to it. This London Bridge--a much wider avenue without shops--lasted from 1831 to 1968, when it was sold to a U.S. company and dissasembled and reassembled like so much Lego at Lake Havesu, Arizona. The current London Bridge, built in 1973, is made of concrete and steel. London Bridge is often confused with the iconic Tower Bridge, constructed in 1894 in a style as to appear older, to compliment the Tower of London.
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