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Glass-Bottom Bridge a Terrifying Thrill

Friday, November 14, 2014

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A new glass floor designed like a "big, gaping hole" in London's storied Tower Bridge is offering visitors a heart-stopping view of the city from nearly 140 feet up.

The floor, 42 meters above the River Thames, is 11 meters long by 1.8 meters wide (36 feet long by six feet wide); each of the six glass panels weighs 530 kilograms (1,168 pounds), according to the Tower Bridge Exhibition.

Tower Bridge glass floor
Screen grab via

One of the main objectives of the glass floor project was to make "it look as real as possible ... a big gaping hole in the floor," said Chris Earlie, head of the Tower Bridge Exhibition.

The glass floor was unveiled Monday (Nov. 10) on the bridge's west walkway. The east walkway will open a glass floor on Dec. 1.

The £1 million ($1.58 million USD) project was funded by the City of London Corporation and the Bridge House Estates.

120-Year-Old Bridge

One of London's most popular attractions, the 120-year-old bridge took eight years to build. It is a combined bascule and suspension bridge.

Its high-level walkways were designed so that people could still cross the bridge when it was raised. In fact, visitors can now watch the bridge raising below their feet.

The glass floor is 11 meters long and 1.8 meters wide (36 feet long by six feet wide). Each of the six glass panels weighs 530 kilograms (1,168 pounds).

The bridge opens 1,000 times each year for ships to pass through, according to

'A Big Gaping Hole'

"There is that sense of trepidation," Chris Earlie, head of the Tower Bridge Exhibition, told "It is more exciting, I think, because you are not actually that high; you can see everything in detail beneath you.

"I do a lot of climbing and adventure sports but, even for me, the first time was a bit difficult."

Creative Commons / Cmglee

The tall ship Wylde Swan passes under Tower Bridge as decorated for the London Olympics in August 2012. (Note the Olympic rings folded up to allow passage of the mast.) A new glass floor in the walkway 138 feet up allows visitors a view looking straight down.

Earlie added that one of the main objectives was to make "it look as real as possible ... a big, gaping hole in the floor."

And for those not thrilled at the too-realistic empty space under their feet, bridge officials recommend the bridge's "stunning panoramic views of London"—available to all by looking out, not down.


Tagged categories: Architecture; Bridges; Color + Design; Design; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Europe; Glass; Project Management

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