Gateways to New York
Impact | Insights
Martin Witz’s film pays tribute to one of the most influential figures of 20th-century America. Othmar Ammann was a reserved, recessive man, and it’s perhaps for that reason he’s not better known; he was a civil engineer who designed most of Manhattan’s bridges, helped establish innovations and safeguards in bridge building, and worked with the controversial urban developer Robert Moses to make New York City what it is today.
The Swiss-born genius set sail for America in 1904, and worked his way up to the top; Ammann’s biggest achievements were the George Washington Bridge and the considerably more controversial Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, and he also worked as a consultant in the wake of some notorious disasters to help make the structures more durable and their construction less perilous. Witz charts the man’s progress through the reading of excerpts from his letters and other writings, and there is, of course, plenty of wonderful archival footage to illustrate the grand changes he helped usher in.