|Note(s)||This image was gathered from the online photographic archives of Life magazine (see link below).
The Garden Bridge has a long history. It started in 1856 when a English merchant, Wills, brought together twenty investors to form a company for the sole purpose of building the first bridge across Soochow Creek.The first bridge, known as the "Wills Bridge" had a total length of 137.16 meters (450 feet) and width of 7.01 meters (23 feet). The investment made was to be repaid by a fee charged on all vehicles and passers-by at a rate of 5 Taels per year for a horse-cart and one Tael for a pedestrian. In 1863, when the British and American Settlements merged, the rate was doubled, causing serious protests by the Chinese population. In reprisal, Cantonese merchants opened new ferry services across Soochow Creek.
By 1870, the bridge was quite worn out. The Shanghai Municipal Council instructed the owners to repay it, to no avail. In 1872, the SMC decided to buy it back and to destroy it.It built a new bridge that was completed in August 1876. Its size was slightly bigger: 110.30 meters (385 feet) long and 12.19 meters (40 feet) wide, with walkways on each side (2.13 meters). The bridge has cost 12,900 Taels. The second bridge remained in place until 1906.
In 1906, the SMC replaced the previous wooden bridge with a steel bridge. It was completed the following year and offered more space than before. Its total length was 104.39 meters, with 11.20 meters for vehicles and 2.9 meters on each side for pedestrians. The space between the bridge and the river reached a maximum of 5.57 meters at low ebb and 3.25 meters at high ebb.
By 1947, after 40 years of service, the municipal government did a checkout that revealed weakness in the structure and a tendency to sink into the ground (12.7 cm since 1907). In June 1947, a private company was contracted to reinforce the structure and prevent further sinking. No other major work was done thereafter, except the widening of the walkways for pedestrians after 1949.|