The first double-decker bridge of its kind to ever be constructed in China, the Qiantang River Bridge serves as a crucial transportation link: connecting the railways between Shanghai, Hangzhou and the neighboring city of Ningbo. The top level of this 4,767 foot (1,453 meter) bridge allows for cars to cross the gaping river while the bottom level provides the same service for the trains which are vital to the region’s economy. Commissioned in 1934 and opened to traffic in 1937, engineer Mao Yisheng just a few months later was forced to destroy the masterpiece he helped to build in an effort to fend off invading Japanese forces. With the eventual completion of the war, however, Yisheng once again worked to create the bridge that locals now consider to be the “rainbow” stretching over the Qiantang River.
Not far downriver from the Six Harmonies Pagoda, the Qiantang River Bridge annually serves as a viewing point for tens of thousands of spectators who come to watch the towering tidal bore. Gathering along the shoreline of the Qiantang River just outside of the bridge, the monthly bore reaches its maximum height and intensity on the 18th day of the eighth lunar month, with best bore-viewing months usually falling in either September or October. This is a natural spectacle which has been annually viewed for thousands of years. In recent years teams of international surfers have whipped into the 20 foot (6.1 meter) wave (with the assistance of jet skis) in a display of rare Chinese river surfing.
Also a vital hub of commerce, the Qiantang River historically served as the southern terminus for China’s Grand Canal: a wonder of engineering which connected the major rivers of eastern China and at one point made river trade possible from Hangzhou all the way to the capital city of Beijing.