GATEWAYS TO NEW YORK

Othmar Ammann, a Swiss-American structural engineer, designed more than half of the eleven bridges that connect New York City to the rest of the United States. We tell his adventure-filled story.

The engineer Othmar Ammann left Switzerland in 1904 to redefine the art of bridge-building in America. He designed more than half of the eleven bridges that connect New York City to the rest of the United States. His constructions changed the face of New York forever. Beyond the life and work of the protagonist, the film focuses on a chapter of contemporary history rarely told from this perspective: the early 20th century, motorisation, urbanisation, the consumer society – everything is changing at an increasingly fast pace. With his breathtaking constructions, Ammann is in the midst of it all, himself an agent of progress. The bridges are as strong as their construction was adventurous. Many of the skywalkers, or steel workers, who risked their lives working high above the city, were Native Americans of the Mohawk tribe. Part of the film is dedicated to them and is a tribute to all those people who actually built these bridges. In 1964, Ammann’s last large and most elegant bridge was opened: the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, at that time the longest suspension bridge in the world. Othmar Ammann died shortly after its inauguration. His suspension bridges remain icons of the 20th century.

Architecture / History
Film by Martin Witz
Length 52’/90’ HD
Co-Production ventura film with RSI and SRG SSR, with the support of Federal Office of Culture, Zürcher Filmstiftung, Suissimage, UBS Culture Foundation, Ernst Göhner Stiftung, SIA Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects, 2018
Original Title Gateways to New York – Othmar H. Ammann and His Bridges

Festivals and awards
Solothurner Filmtage / Journées de Soleure, Switzerland 2019 (Prix du Public)