at Pont Neuf, Paris , 75001
The Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine in Paris, France. Its name, which was given to distinguish it from older bridges that were lined on both sides with houses, has remained after all of those were replaced. It stands by the western (downstream) point of the Île de la Cité, the island in the middle of the river that was, between 250 and 225 BC, the birthplace of Paris, then known as Lutetia, and during the medieval period, the heart of the city.The bridge is composed of two separate spans, one of five arches joining the left bank to the Île de la Cité, another of seven joining the island to the right bank. Old engraved maps of Paris show how, when the bridge was built, it just grazed the downstream tip of the Île de la Cité; since then, the natural sandbar building of a mid-river island, aided by stone-faced embankments called quais, has extended the island. Today the tip of the island is the location of the Square du Vert-Galant, a small public park named in honour of Henry IV, nicknamed the "Green Gallant".ConstructionAs early as 1550, Henry II was asked to build a bridge here because the existing Pont Notre-Dame was overloaded, but the expense was too much at the time.In February 1578, the decision to build the bridge was made by Henry III who laid its first stone in 1578, the year when the foundations of four piers and one abutment were completed. Pierre des Isles, one of the builders, convinced the supervisory commission that the bridge, which was originally straight, would be more resistant to the river currents, if its two sections were built at a slight angle, a change they adopted in May 1578.
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