Almost every major city in Germany....is built along the side of some river. This was all fine and dandy a hundred years ago, when folks rarely crossed rivers. Today? Everything funnels into a line, and with only a couple of bridges to cross a river....folks now sit and discuss matters to an extreme. Bridges.....have become a major topic.
Around a hundred years ago....along the Elbe River.....at Dresden....folks got this urge for another bridge. Talk came and went. Wars came and went. City council members and political parties.....came and went.
So along the late 1990s.....in Dresden.....folks finally got serious about this one bridge that they wanted built. It would fix traffic issues and bring sanity back to reason.
If the bridge had been built in the 1960s....I doubt if anyone would have said a word about it. But, this one bridge was a problem.
The city and it's elite....had gone out and fixed up the old city, and about a decade ago....it was fixed back to the style of the 1800s, and had been put on some UN list of a world heritage site. Now, for the common guy....this is a big deal where a bunch of UN folks come to your town....note how cultured you are, and how wonderful things are. So you get a title, and you advertise this. Some folks in Dresden came to note that tourism was wonderful since they had this UN-title stuck onto them.
Well....as the bridge got into the final details of planning....the city council got disturbed because of various threats made (verbal, not real physical threats). The elite of Dresden said this plain-looking bridge just wasn't going to help it's image, and it must be stopped. At some point, this gets on a ballot and around sixty-percent of the residents vote to continue. Then the state gets involved and tries to offer millions of Euro.....to build an underground tunnel. No one was ever sure about the cost, but it would have likely taken double the time and cost had to run at a very high level.
None of this stopped the construction of the bridge. The local elite? Well....they went to the UN folks and continued on with the threat to remove the UN-status of a world heritage location.
In the last month, the bridge has been completed, and the city has had it's UN-logo for a world heritage spot removed. At the opening ceremony to allow folks to walk over the bridge....newspapers reported around 60,000 folks showing up and walking over it. So far, local residents are extremely enthusiastic.
Loss of tourism? It'll take two years for folks to figure the numbers and likely show a trend. My humble guess is that ninety-five percent of the tourists who came to Dresden....probably didn't even know of the UN's elite status episode, and wouldn't care one way or the other.
The demonstration of the elites and their power struggle over one bridge? It's hard for an American to judge what the intent was or just how absorbed these folks were in taking this episode to the extent that they did. Typically.....it's hard to find intellectuals who argue over bridges. They tend to argue over wine, cheesey-cheese sauce, Italian art of the 1840s, style of women's clothing, Spanish cathedrals, poems by dead Russians, fancy gold rings, and Shakespeare writings over dead Romans and their phony scandals. Bridges? Well....it's just not in the usual top 1,000 topics that you'd talk about.
So if you are traveling a bit, and happen to be in Dresden....you might want to walk over to the Waldschlosschen Bridge and admire its simplicity. Somewhere around one end.....will be some coffee shop I suspect....where a dozen intellectual guys are whining over the terrible simplicity of the bridge. If there had been statues attached....monuments to Chinese poets....perhaps a gladiator or two in mortal combat, but to have only a simplistic bridge? Sadly, you will sit and ask for some whiskey to freshen up your coffee, and simply grin.
Life is terrible, when you've got woes like this. Luckily for the rest of us.....we've got better problems to worry about, and need not to waste a moment of our lives....worrying about the lack of style or grace of some damn bridge.