Wikipedia: "The Esplanade Bridge is a 260 metre-long (850 ft.) road bridge that spans across the mouth of the Singapore River in Singapore with the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay on its northern abutment and the Merlion on the southern. The 70 metre-wide (230 ft.) low-level concrete arched bridge has seven spans and supports two four-lane carriageways and walkways along both sides.
The bridge was built to provide faster vehicular access between Marina Centre and the financial district of Shenton Way. Construction of the bridge began in early 1994 and was completed in March 1997. The main contractor was Obayashi Corporation. The bridge then blocked views of the Merlion statue from the Marina Bay waterfront, raising a need for the original Merlion statue to be relocated from the back to the front of the bridge.
The bridge offers panoramic views of Marina South and the rest of Marina Bay. However, this also makes it subject to occasional road closures on special occasions, where the bridge closes to all road traffic to allow spectators and pedestrians to observe fireworks seen during the National Day celebrations, New Year's Eve and the Singapore Fireworks Celebrations. On nights like these, all eight lanes of traffic will be packed with onlookers. Watching firework displays from the bridge has been made more pleasant, as street lights on the bridge are switched off right before and switched back on right after.
The bridge also formed part of the Singapore Grand Prix's Marina Bay Street Circuit, which debuted on 28 September 2008, and thus had to be completely closed for the duration of the racing season."
Singapore began as a boat quay at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Its early days bear few written accounts which are made more difficult to interpret due to the many names it has had. Its original name in Malay meant "island at the end" of the peninsula.
In the middle ages there was a settlement here with a trading post and fishing village; today Singapore technically contains sixty-three small islands. Here's a good view of the city from Merlion Park and up close at Raffles Place.
From the fifteenth century onwards Singapore's warring neighbors took turns taking over control of the city. Over the past five centuries this port city has been the property of Siam, the Majapahit Empire of Java, Thailand, Portugal, Britain, Japan and Malaysia. Singapore finally achieved its independence in 1959 and has existed as the Republic of Singapore, a UN member nation.
Singapore is really interesting because it's one of only five sovereign city-states which survived the colonial expansion period of world history. (The others are Vatican City, Monaco, San Marino and Andorra.) Its history as a busy port city has brought traders from all over the world, and their influence is commemorated in some interesting works of art. For example, see the British tea merchants along the Singapore river, and the Asian Civilizations Museum.
In the nineteenth century Singapore was a major port for ships traveling between Europe and East Asia. During WWII the Battle of Singapore ended with the largest British surrender in history -- nearly 130,000 troops.
Next time you have the chance to pass through Singapore, make sure to visit the zoo and see the white tigers, and be glad there's a fence in between. Also note how clean the city is, even under a bridge.
Text by Steve Smith.