Seven steel wonders of the industrial world

Steel structures have always had the ability to strike an awe-inspiring impression. The modern world has nothing short of modern miracles that are underpinned by the lightweight strength of steel. Here, we take a closer look at the most famous steel structures that make up the seven wonders of the industrial world.

1. The Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan

Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan

At the time it was built, the Brooklyn Bridge was to be the largest bridge in the world. It was designed to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn. John Roebling, a German migrant, designed a blueprint that showed a two-kilometre, durable, symmetrically delicate bridge. When Roebling passed away in an accident, his son took over the building of the bridge. When he then fell ill, his wife led the construction of the bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge, with its secret grottos and stunning cross-wire design, may now be one of the most beautiful bridges in the world – even if the title for longest bridge has been taken by another.

2. The Hoover Dam

Hoover dam and Colorado river bridge's aerial view

Hoover dam and Colorado river bridge’s aerial view

The deserts of Arizona and Nevada were dry and hostile in the early 20th century. However, by harnessing the Colorado River for hydropower, even the most hostile environment can flourish. At 60 storeys high and with a greater volume than the pyramids of Giza, this masterpiece of construction demonstrates how humans can develop the most arid regions. As far as steel structures go, this is a beauty. There is more than 900 kilometres of 1-inch steel pipe embedded in the concrete of the Hoover Dam.

3. The ‘Great Eastern’ ship

"Great Eastern 1866-crop" by most likely Robert Edward Holloway (d. 1904)

“Great Eastern 1866-crop” by most likely Robert Edward Holloway (d. 1904)

When the ‘crystal palace of the sea’ was first launched on the River Thames in London, it was the largest ship in the world. The colossal scale ship came from the mind of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who imagined ‘creating a floating city made of iron and transporting 4,000 people to Australia, the opposite side of the earth.  SS Great Eastern was an iron sailing steam ship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and built by J. Scott Russell & Co. at Millwall on the River Thames, London.

4. The Bell Rock Lighthouse

The Bell Rock Lighthouse

The Bell Rock Lighthouse

Robert Stevenson built this famous lighthouse 17 kilometres out to see on a 400 metre-wide reef. The reef was almost always submerged, causing many ships to crash. At the time, people believed it was impossible to build a lighthouse that far from shore.

5. Bazalgette’s London Sewers

An original stink-pipe on Bazalgette's south-side sewer

An original stink-pipe on Bazalgette’s south-side sewer

Millions of people had died from disease when the ‘Great Stink’ swept through London. Joseph Bazalgette, a civil engineer, outlined a simple solution to a problem that was killing people. His design was the first modern sewer system, which lasted hundreds of years.

6. The Panama Canal

Panama Canal Gatun Locks

Panama Canal Gatun Locks

The Panama Canal was cut through a continent to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. The Panama Canal is the longest canal in history at 85 kilometres long. It took 35 years to complete and cost $639 million. 25,000 workers lost their lives in the treacherous tropical conditions of Panama.

7. The Transcontinental Railway

"East and West Shaking hands at the laying of last rail Union Pacific Railroad

“East and West Shaking hands at the laying of last rail Union Pacific Railroad – Restoration” by Andrew J. Russell – Yale University Libraries. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

The Transcontinental Railway was designed to span the American continent. It was designed when a trip from New York to California by ship took six months. Due to repeated and consistent successes in the steel industry, Abraham Lincoln decided to construct the railway at the height of the American Civil War. The railways were to play a key role in advancing the United States as an industrial nation.

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