Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What City Has the Most Bridges and Why Is This Fact Unfindable on the Web?

I am a trivia fanatic. I grew up glued to College Bowl, Jeopardy and almost memorizing the '70s version of the Guinness Books of World Records.

When I was younger and had a better memory, it was easy to memorize trivial facts because they are facts. Tom Hanks won the Best Actor Oscar for Forrest Gump the year after winning one for Philadelphia. Easy. The Union beat the Confederacy in the Civil War. Clearly a fact though some people might still argue that particular one.

I do a little work for a company that gives tours of Pittsburgh. I know one trivial fact about Pittsburgh we always said was "Pittsburgh has the second most bridges in the world after Venice." Makes sense. Both are cities with rivers/canals and loads of bridges that go over them. I visited Venice in 1974, and saw many, many tiny bridges that were walkways over narrow canals all over town. The next year, I moved to Pittsburgh to go to college and saw a very different landscape - bridges over much wider rivers, and bridges that went between the many ridges and hills in the area.

But yesterday I was talking to a woman from Hamburg, Germany who was insistent that Hamburg had the most number of bridges of any city in the world. I really don't know anything about Hamburg, so I tried to look it up online...And found it was really hard. Because the first "fact" about "most bridges in a city" was from ask.com - and it was completely wrong. Ask.com claims that Pittsburgh has the most bridges of any city - more than Venice, even - 446. Venice only has 409. So Pittsburgh has more bridges than Venice.

But, after digging a little more, I found that Hamburg has at least 2300 bridges. Maybe it's a geographically huge city, because that's a lot of bridges.

So vis a vis bridges, Hamburg was #1, Pittsburgh was #2 and Venice was #3.

But then someone said "What about Amsterdam?" so I looked - and Amsterdam has 1281 bridges.

So that means ask.com is at least doubly-wrong about the number of bridges; Hamburg is #1, Amsterdam is #2, Pittsburgh is #3 and Venice is #4.

Ask.com has no obvious place to send corrections.

And I am curious about this, so if you know about a city that has at least 400 bridges and a way online to verify this fact, send it to me and I'll keep a running tally here.

Cities with the Most Bridges

last updated 4/15/2016

  • Hamburg, Germany: 2,300
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands: 1,281 -- a site in Dutch seems to say Amsterdam has over 2,300 bridges
  • New York, New York, USA: 788
  • Pittsburgh, PA, USA: 446
  • Venice, Italy: 409
  • Seattle, WA, USA: 149

Cities that probably have loads of bridges but I can't find a specific number:
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia