Wretched Excess, 1564 Style; The Vasari Corridor in Florence, Italy, The Original Grade-Separated Pedestrian Skywalk

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Ponte Veccio

credit: Lloyd Alter

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When I first saw the famous Ponte Vecchio inhabited bridge in Florence last month, I admired all the jagged-roofed shops in the foreground, (I love the idea of inhabited bridges), but wondered about that straight, even, newish stuff behind it. How did they let that happen?

I felt pretty stupid when I learned that the new stuff was built in 1564 by the richest man in town, the Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici, in just five months by architect Giorgio Vasari. it is in fact, a pedestrian grade-separated skywalk like you see in cities all over the world today, but instead of separating people from cars below, it separated the Medici's from the plebeians below and essentially connected their home to their office.

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