History of the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris
The idea for a metal footbridge across the River Seine was first thought of by Napoleon Bonaparte I back in 1804, however it was actually built later, and after the metal bridge in England that was the first of its kind.
The Pont des Arts was designed by the engineers Louis-Alexandre de Cessart and Jacques Lecroix-Dillon with an elegant and lightweight design, and was named the Pont des Arts after the Palais du Louvre, that was at the time sometimes known as the Palais des Arts or Arts Palace during the First Empire.
But when this bridge in Paris was first constructed it even had a penny toll for people to be able to use this pedestrian bridge, and it was very popular for people to enjoy a stroll or go from the Louvre area and the Tuileries over to the College des Quatre Nations, which is now known as the Institut de France.
However, even though the bridge was elegant and lightweight, adorned with hanging baskets of flowers and benches for people to relax on, it was not practical for the river traffic with its nine arches and was reconstructed during the Second Empire.
But this still did not resolve the problem of the boats on the River Seine having to negotiate this bridge, and unfortunately, over the years several barges hit the Pont des Arts and eventually it was damaged so badly, that the footbridge was closed in 1970 due to being declared completely unsafe.
It was ten years later that a project was being put together by the architect Louis Arretche to reconstruct the Pont des Arts, but utilising steel rather than cast iron. Yet this met with great opposition from different river services and historians that did not want a new bridge over the River Seine constructed here so as to not spoil the views of the famous Louvre Museum, nor cause problems for river tranport like previously.
The original Pont des Arts was demolished in 1981, and after many discussions and negotiations, a plan was eventually approved for a new pedestrian bridge over the River Seine, which would still be similar to that of the original, and still carry the same name of the Pont des Arts.
The work on the new Pont des Arts was started in 1985, but there are several differences when comparing it to the original bridge, as for instance, there are now only seven arches that span the river instead of the original nine, and these are also made with steel to support the wooden decking instead of cast iron.
The abutments and piers are made of reinforced concrete, yet these are dressed in stone to make them look far more appealing to the eye, but there are a couple of things that still remain the same, like the fact that it still has bushes planted along with benches to sit and relax.