Tower Bridge
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Tower Bridge

 Distance from hotel: 7.5 miles (About 14 minutes)
 Hours of operation: 10am to 6pm
 Cost: 6.50
 Included with tour: No

 

  THE HISTORY

  Tower Bridge is a bridge in London, England, over the River Thames. It is close to the Tower of London, which gives it its name. It is occasionally incorrectly referred to as London Bridge, which is in fact the next bridge upstream.

The high-level walkways between the towers gained an unpleasant reputation as a haunt for prostitutes and pickpockets and were closed in 1910. They have now been reopened as part of the Tower Bridge Experience, a museum/historical exhibition mostly housed in the bridge's twin towers. The exhibition also includes the original steam engines that once powered the Bridge bascules, housed in a building close to the south end of the Bridge.

A "Behind the Scenes" tour can be booked in advance, on which it is possible to see the bridge's command centre (where the raising of the bridge is controlled when a vessel passes underneath). The bascules of the bridge are raised around five hundred times a year.

Although river traffic is now a fraction of what it used to be, it still takes priority over road traffic. This nearly caused a diplomatic incident in 1997, when the motorcade of United States President Bill Clinton got stuck on Tower Bridge while the bascules were unexpectedly opened.

The bridge sits almost directly above the Tower Subway, the world's first underground tube railway (1870), which, until the Bridge was opened, was the shortest way to cross the river from Tower Hill to Tooley Street.