File photo: VCG
LONDON, June 30 (Xinhua) -- London's iconic Tower Bridge celebrates its 125th anniversary on Sunday with exhibitions and special offers.
Officially opened on June 30, 1894, the bridge has become the defining landmark of the British capital. It welcomed a record-breaking 864,652 visitors in 2018.
Chris Earlie, head of Tower Bridge, told Xinhua: "It has a century and a quarter to make its impact, but I think even from day one that there is no way to get away from the fact that it was one of the most recognizable and significant landmarks in the world."
"People fall in love with it, because of the way it looks, because it's so unique, because it's London's defining landmark. I'd like to think of it as a fairy tale castle on the river."
Throughout the 125th anniversary weekend, visitors were invited to explore the history of the bridge through a series of special offers and free events, including an admission entry offer of 1.25 pounds and a big birthday bash for the bridge architect Horace Jones as costumed Victorians tread the walkways.
An exhibition also showed off the weird and wacky alternative designs that were nearly built instead. The bridge was just one of 50 designs which vied to solve the conundrum of erecting a much-needed new bridge that would still allow large ships into what was the world's busiest port.
Engineer John Wolfe Barry and architect Horace Jones's winning design was a bridge that flips open in the middle, with huge chambers in the feet of two towers to accommodate the counterweights swinging down as the bridge halves swing up.
The bridge took eight years to build and was opened by royal family members. In its first year, the steam-powered bridge was opened more than 6,000 times. Now run on oil and electricity, it opens around 850 times a year, mainly for tourist vessels, which must give 24 hours' notice.
About 65-meter tall and 244-meter long, it is the last bridge downstream in London and is crossed by more than 40,000 pedestrians and 21,000 vehicles per day, according to a press release from Tower Bridge.