How the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge changed China forever
Updated 2nd August 2017 Written bySerenitie Wang, CNN Andrea Lo, CNN
2017年8月2日更新 作者: CNN serenitie Wang CNN Andrea Lo报道
1 / 10 -The poster, designed by Zhang Yuqing, shows off the bridge in all its glory. Both local and foreign visitors are portrayed. International Institute of Social History
2 / 10 -This poster by the Revolutionary Committee of the Jiangsu Revolutionary Literature and Art University shows off its dual functions in transportation. The upper deck forms part of a major highway while a railway is installed on the lower deck. International Institute of Social History
2 / 10——这张由江苏革命文艺大学革命委员会制作的海报，展示了南京长江大桥在交通运输方面的双层功能。上层为主要公路的一部分，下层为铁路。国际社会历史研究所
3 / 10 -This poster was designed by the Nanjing Great Bridge Workers Creative Group and the Revolutionary Publishing Group of the Shanghai Publication System. The poster is a propaganda effort that aimed to promote Maoism.
Scroll through the gallery for propaganda illustrations depicting the bridge from a collection of posters owned by the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. International Institute of Social History
3 / 10 -此海报为南京大桥工人创作小组和上海出版局下属单位——革命出版社共同设计。该海报旨在推广毛泽东思想。
通过浏览阿姆斯特丹国际社会历史研究所(International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam)收藏的海报，你会看到有许多描绘这座桥的宣传插图。国际社会历史研究所
4 / 10 -Portraying Chairman Mao front and center, this poster reads "A great victory for Chairman Mao's proletarian revolutionary line." It was designed by the Nanjing Great Bridge Workers Creative Group and the Revolutionary Publishing Group of the Shanghai Publication System. International Institute of Social History
5 / 10 -Celebrating the victory of the bridge's construction, this poster features illustrations of workers holding up a portrait of Mao Zedong. They are also seen with a copy of the Little Red Book. International Institute of Social History
6 / 10 -This poster by an unknown designer features a quote from Mao on the right: "China's people have drive and strength -- we have to reach and overtake levels of advancement across the world."
The bridge's magnolia-shaped street lamps can be seen clearly in the illustration. The bottom left reads "the magnificent Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge." International Institute of Social History
7 / 10 -Designed by the Revolutionary Culture University of Jiangsu Province, this poster shows people marching towards the bridge. The bridge itself features sculptures depicting peasants, workers and soldiers. International Institute of Social History
8 / 10 -A bridge stretches in a North-South direction. Designed by a creative group at the Jiangsu Provincial Cadre School, this poster attempts to illustrate the ease in transport the bridge provides. International Institute of Social History
9 / 10 -This poster, designed by Hu Jinye, shows soldiers remaining on guard at their posts on the bridge during the night of a holiday. International Institute of Social History
10 / 10 -Created by an unknown designer, this poster shows the bridge's upper and lower decks, as well as water traffic down below. International Institute of Social History
10 / 10——这幅海报由一位不知名的设计师创作，展示了这座桥的上、下桥面，以及桥下的水上交通。国际社会历史研究所
China may be home to both the longest and highest bridges in the world, but neither is as pioneering as the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge. Built during China's tumultuous Cultural Revolution, the double-decked bridge was considered groundbreaking when it was unveiled in 1968.
But more importantly to some, it was also the first modern bridge to be designed and built by China without help from foreign architects.
As major repairs get underway ahead of next year's 50th anniversary, the bridge remains a source of pride in Nanjing, China's former capital. A project commissioned by railway officials hopes to secure the bridge's legacy by documenting its history, according to the initiative's head Lu Andong, a professor at Nanjing University's School of Architecture and Urban Planning.
"The bridge was so important, and it's undoubtedly a symbol of the city," he said. "It is being repaired for transportation and safety purposes, but I would relish the chance to transform the bridge's tower and the affiliated park into places of memory."
The Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge opened in 1968. Credit: Zhang qingmin/AP
Made in China
China had initially hoped to build Nanjing's bridge with its communist allies, the USSR. Having already helped construct a crossing at Wuhan (about 280 miles up the river), the Soviets once again offered technical assistance. But soon after construction began in 1960, relations between the two nations soured.
Wang Shiqing is pictured with railway tickets featuring illustrations of the bridge, part of his vast collection. Credit: Xu Qi
Soviet experts withdrew from the project ahead of the Sino-Soviet split -- the breakdown of relations between the world's largest communist powers from 1960. The bridge was nonetheless completed eight years later. China considered the accomplishment to be a major feat of engineering -- and a propaganda victory.
At over 5,000 feet long, the bridge carries both cars and trains. Its upper deck is a four-lane highway with sidewalks, while the railway tracks are now part of the Beijing-Shanghai train route.
"Everybody loves the bridge," said Wang Shiqing, a longtime Nanjing resident who has collected over 1,000 pieces of Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge memorabilia. "It's a source of pride, especially for local Nanjing people," he says.
As with other notable bridges -- like San Francisco's Golden Gate -- the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge has become a popular suicide spot. However, for Nanjing's residents, it is best known for transforming life in the city.
Before the bridge was built, people and goods could only cross the river by ferry. Trains passing through the city would have to be disassembled and loaded onto boats in order to continue their journey.
Upon its completion, the bridge changed the lives of the city's residents."In terms of the function, it made people's lives so much easier," said Wang, who was born the same year the bridge was opened. "It reduced the river crossing time and served as the main artery for north-south transportation."
time and served as the main artery for north-south transportation."
A 'pop icon of modernity'
As well as sculptures of peasants, workers and soldiers, the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge also features Mao Zedong quotes and a 230-foot statue of the former leader.
"The red flags and magnolia decorations are very Chinese," Wang said, referring to the three flag-shaped sculptures found at the top of the bridge's towers.
This particular design reflects the "Three Red Banners" -- a major propaganda campaign during the Cultural Revolution. The "banners" represented ideologies that called for the construction of a socialist state in China.
"The completion of the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge is a great victory of Mao Zedong thought" (1970)
This poster was designed by the Nanjing Great Bridge Workers Creative Group and the Revolutionary Publishing Group of the Shanghai Publication System. The poster is a propaganda effort that aimed to promote Maoism. Scroll through the gallery for propaganda illustrations depicting the bridge from a collection of posters owned by the International Institute of Social Historyin Amsterdam.
The bridge often appeared in propaganda posters, which were keen to imply that the structure represented a "great victory of Mao Zedong Thought" (the political theory known outside China as "Maoism"). One such poster featured a quote from Mao: "Chinese people have drive and strength -- we have to reach and overtake levels of advancement across the world."
Erected during a turbulent time in China's history, the bridge had far-reaching cultural impact, according to Lu.
"This bridge is one of the most recognized achievements of the Cultural Revolution era," he said. "It is both a political monument and a symbol of technological and historical success. Its image appeared on cups, pencils, shoes, mirrors, cigarettes and bicycles nationwide -- the bridge became a pop icon of modernity."
The legacy of the bridge also lives on through the people who were named after it. According to Wang, many people in Nanjing named their firstborns Chang Jiang (Chinese for "Yangtze") and their second Da Qiao (which means "big bridge").
Restoring former glories
In April 2016 the National Development and Reform Commission, China's state planning body, approved a 27-month program of repairs to the bridge. According to a government report, "safety and durability risks" were key factors in the decision.
But the structure will be getting a facelift too. A $160.7 million (RMB 1.09 billion) investment will be used to restore some of the iconic statues, including those found on nearby river banks. Sculptures on the bridge will be reinforced, with handrails and piers also undergoing renovations.
With younger generations less aware of the bridge's historical significance, Lu hopes that the renovations will restore not only the bridge, but the city's interest in it.
"The older generation obviously takes more pride in the bridge," he said. "It is very important to re-access the memory of the bridge in a creative way, to allow people of all ages to experience and understand the memories of it.
See gallery above for propaganda illustrations depicting the bridge from posters collected by the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam.