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South Bridge

A bridge and thoroughfare of central Edinburgh, South Bridge connects North Bridge with Nicholson Street which together form the beginning of the A7 road. Extending from the High Street to Drummond Street, the bridge comprises nineteen arches over the valley of the Cowgate, creating a gently sloping roadway over an area of steeply falling topography. South Bridge was built 1785-88 by Alexander Laing (d.1823), to designs by Robert Kay (1740 - 1818), including modifications suggested by a bitter Robert Adam (1728-92) who had expected to get the contract. Only a single arch is exposed, the others hidden behind buildings which rise to four or five storeys above the street and eight and nine storeys above ground level. The buildings were also by Kay, although several have subsequently been remodelled or replaced. The building of the bridge was linked to the redevelopment of this part of the Old Town, including the building of Old College for the University of Edinburgh and the opening up of a new entrance into the city. A fire in 2002 damaged and in-part destroyed a parade of buildings alongside to the bridge, between the Cowgate and Chambers Street.


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