The Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge, commonly known as the Rainbow Bridge, is an arch bridge across the Niagara River gorge. It connects the cities of Niagara Falls, New York, United States and Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, during their visit to Niagara Falls as part of the 1939 royal tour of Canada, dedicated the site of the Rainbow Bridge; a monument was erected to commemorate the occasion.
On May 4th, 1940, construction on the Rainbow Bridge began approximately 550 feet north of the previous Honeymoon Bridge. At this point the Rainbow Bridge was 1,000 feet north of the American Falls. The Niagara Gorge is 200 feet deep and approximately 1,000 feet wide. The water current under this bridge averages 26-30 miles per hour and the water depth is 175 feet. In one minute, it is estimated that 6,000,000,000 pounds of water cross under the Rainbow Bridge. The span of this bridge is 950 feet. Each of the main arch abutments are located 50 feet from the river's edge and 50 feet above the surface of the water. The abutments and the approach spans rest on solid rock on the sides of the gorge and are high enough to avoid a similar catastrophe that had occurred to the Honeymoon Bridge. During construction, life nets placed under the bridge caught those workers who accidentally fell from the structure so that there was no loss of life. The official opening of the Rainbow Bridge took place on November 1st, 1941.
The Rainbow Tower, part of the plaza complex on the Canadian side, houses a carillon—a musical instrument consisting of a baton keyboard that controls a series of bells. The Rainbow Carillon is sounded three times a day, 365 days a year. It features 55 bells with a total weight of over 43 tons. The instrument is controlled via a series of 55 oak batons and 30 foot pedals. When the tower was built it contained a small apartment for the resident musician (the carillonneur). The bells were silenced for renovations from 1998 to 2001 and by 2002, the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission had replaced the resident carillonneur with a fully automated system. The instrument can still be played manually but is mostly automated to allow for frequent playing.
There is a 10 foot wide sidewalk along the south side of the bridge facing the Falls. Currently, no commercial trucks are permitted to use the bridge. The Rainbow Bridge is one of the faster international bridges crossing the two borders and pedestrians are permitted on the Pedestrian Walkway. If you plan on crossing the border, it is best to check out the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission website by clicking here.