Emperor and King Franz Joseph I. Bridge
1912–1913

Americká třída , Denisovo nábřeží (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
Public transport: Mrakodrap
GPS: 49.7433811N, 13.3804264E
Architect:

In the early years of the independent Czechoslovak state, the Radbuza riverbank in the city centre was transformed into in impressive urban area. However, the impulse to regulate the flow of the river came earlier, after a great flood struck the city in 1890. The modification of the riverbed as designed by Karel Vosyka, Professor of the Czech Technical University, began in 1897-1898 in the area stretching along the Burghers' Brewery and Pecháčkovy Sady (today’s Štruncovy Sady). The main part of this ambitious plan included the construction of embankment walls between the U Jána Bridge and a railway bridge from the year 1862, filling in the Mill Drain area, the replacement of the Royal Weir with a new solid weir, and the construction of a new bridge.

Although the first design of the bridge, which was originally meant to be linked to the new weir, was drafted as early as in 1894, the city did not start with its implementation until 1912. The chief city engineer and later director of the City of Pilsen Building Authority Václav Mencl designed it so that its implementation would not depend on the long-postponed construction of the regulatory walls. Work on today's Wilson Bridge, which was originally named after Emperor Franz Josef I, was completed by the well-known construction company Müller & Kapsa in the following year. The town thus acquired another connection between the centre and the Imperial Suburb and the railway station and the Prague Suburb.

Although reinforced concrete was already being applied in bridge constructions relatively often at that time, Václav Mencl chose a traditional brick construction made mostly from granite taken from the nearby village of Štěnovice (concrete was only used in the foundations). The structure consists of two arches of a 27.5-metre clear span connected by a massive central pier and accentuated by a set of “voussoirs" along the perimeter. Two pairs of corbel supported booths for toll collectors protrude from the parapet of the structure, which was last great stone bridge to be built in the Czech lands. The bridge bears an inscription of the year "1913". The same anchoring was used for sightseeing niches with candelabras for arc lamps above the central pillar. The castellated stone parapet, which is complemented by a massive post at the apex of each arch giving the impression of a keystone, also extends over the edge of the bridge and is supported by a set of support brackets. Steel rails were originally laid into the pavement of the bridge, but the planned tram line was replaced by trolleybus transport in the years following World War II.

During the 20th century the bridge was renamed several times – after the foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 it was named after U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, and during WWII it bore the name of King Charles IV. Subsequently, it was named Victory Bridge and J. V. Stalin Bridge, only to readopt the name “Wilson”, which it bears at present. In 2013 and 2014, the bridge underwent complete renovation under the supervision of the historic preservation authority, as it has been protected as an immovable cultural monument since 1988.
 

Investor

City of Pilsen

Monument preservation

Immovable cultural heritage, listed under registration no.: ÚSKP 44239/4-4330.

Sources

  • Wilsonův most, Encyklopedie mostů v Čechách, na Moravě a ve Slezsku, http://libri.cz/databaze/mosty/heslo.php?id=735, vyhledáno 7. 2. 2017.
 
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