Vorrazano, an Italian about whom little is known, sailed into New York Harbour in 1524 and named it Angouleme. He described it as ‘a very agreeable situation located with two small hills in the midst of which flowed a great river. Though Vorrazano is by no means considered to be great explorer, his name will probably remain immortal, for on November 21st, 1964, the longest suspension bridge was named after him.
The Vorrazano Bridge, which was designed by Othmar Amman, joins Brooklyn to Staten Island. It has a span of 4200 feet. The bridge is so long that the shape of the earth had to be taken into account by its designer. Two towers support four huge cables. The towers are built on immense underwater platforms made of steel and concrete. The platforms extend to a depth of over 100 feet. These alone took sixteen months to build. Above the surface of the water, the towers rise to a height of nearly 700 feet. They support the cables from which the bridge has been suspended. Each of the four cables contains 26108 lengths of wire. It has been estimated that if the bridge were packed with cars, it would still only be carrying a third of its capacity. However, size and strength are not the only important things about this bridge. Despite its immensity, it is both simple and elegant, fulfilling its designer’s dream to create ‘a enormous object drawn as faintly as possible’.
There was a time when the owners of shops and businesses in Chicago had to pay large sums of money to gangsters in return for ‘protection’. If the money was not paid promptly, the gangsters would quickly put a man out of business by destroying his shop. Obtaining protection money is not a modern crime. As long ago as the fourteenth century, Sir Joxx Hawkwood, an Englishman, make the remarkable discovery that people would rather pay large sums of money to gangsters than have their life work destroyed.
Six hundred years ago, Sir xxx Hawkwood arrived in Italy with a band of soldiers and settled near Florence. He soon made a name for himself and came to be known to the Italians as Giovanni Acuto. Whenever the Italian city-states were at war with each other, Hwakwood used to hire his soldiers to princes who were willing to pay the high price he demanded. In times of peace, when business was bad, Hawkwood and his men would march into a city-state and, after burning down a few farms, would offer to go away if protection money was paid to them. He made larges sums of money in this way. In spite of this, the Italians regarded him as a sort of hero. When he died at the age of eighty, the Florentines gave him a state funeral and had a picture painted which was dedicated to the memory of ‘the most valiant soldier and the most notable leader, Singor Giovanni Hawkodue.’
Step into spring
It’s that time of year
Nature is bursting into life
Time for you to buy something new
Shake off those winter blues
Add some colour to your wordrobe
Put some fresh flavour in your cooking