Friday, February 06, 2009

But they're fearsome poodles

My occasional tour of Strasbourg’s lesser sights continues…

This is the “Pont de Fonderie,” built in 1881. It is also called the Lion’s Bridge, for the animals standing guard on the four corners.

According to one of my guidebooks, when the bridge was completed, locals dubbed it “Poodle’s Bridge,” in order to mock the less-than-overwhelming size of the titular felines. As a result, I’ve always felt a certain sympathy for the bridge’s designer, who was surely struggling to bring the project in under budget. The poodles lions are not, after all, structurally important. It must sting, as an architect, to have your efforts denigrated in this way, or compared to an amphibian, (as in Halifax’s Green Toad) or a pickle (London’s Gherkin, which is actually one of the more flattering comparisons Londoners could have drawn).

On the other hand, the architect might have chosen his diminutive decorations on purpose: the bridge leads directly to the then-new Justice Courts, built by the Prussian occupiers of Strasbourg after the 1871 war to enforce the Kaiser’s law. I like to think our bridge builder was making a subversive statement.

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