Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/353

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THE GREAT BRIDGE AND ITS LESSONS.

the solar radiation is more intense and more constant than in Paris. The engraving correctly represents the arrangement of the apparatus. M. Pifre's insolator is shown in the center, with its great parabolic mirror. The engine which it drove is shown by the side of it, while on the right and in the foreground may be seen the press printing the journal. We have a right to believe that heliodynamics may at some future time be usefully and profitably employed in hot countries.

 
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THE GREAT BRIDGE AND ITS LESSONS.
Address by ABRAM S. HEWITT.

TWO hundred and seventy years ago the good ship Tiger, commanded by Captain Adraien Block, was burned to the water's edge as she lay at anchor, just off the southern end of Manhattan Island. Her crew, thus forced into winter quarters, were the first white men who built and occupied a house on the land where New York now stands; "then," to quote the graphic language of Mrs. Lamb, in her history of the city, "in primeval solitude, waiting till commerce should come and claim its own. Nature wore a hardy countenance, as wild and as untamed as the savage landholders. Manhattan's twenty-two thousand acres of rock, lake, and rolling tableland, rising at places to a height of one hundred and thirty-eight feet, were covered with somber forests, grassy knolls, and dismal swamps. The trees were lofty, and old, decayed, and withered limbs contrasted with the younger growth of branches; and wild flowers wasted their sweetness among the dead leaves and uncut herbage at their roots. The wanton grape-vine swung carelessly from the topmost boughs of the oak and the sycamore; and blackberry and raspberry bushes, like a picket-guard, presented a bold front in all possible avenues of approach. The entire surface of the island was bold and granitic, and in profile resembled the cartilaginous back of the sturgeon." This primeval scene was the product of natural forces working through uncounted periods of time; the continent slowly rising and falling in the sea like the heaving breast of a world asleep; glaciers carving patiently through ages the deep estuaries; seasons innumerable clothing the hills with alternate bloom and decay.

The same sun shines to-day upon the same earth; yet how transformed! Could there be a more astounding exhibition of the power of man to change the face of Nature than the panoramic view which presents itself to the spectator standing upon the crowning arch of the bridge whose completion we are here to-day to celebrate in the honored presence of the President of the United States, with their fifty millions; of the Governor of the State of New York, with its five millions;