If Buda and Pest were pieces of fabric, its bridges would be giant iron stitches that hold the two pieces together. Like London and Paris, San Francisco and Florence, Budapest is famous for its bridges. When visiting the capital, one of the first things you learn is the names of the big four: Margit Bridge, Erzsébet, Szabadság (Liberty) and the Lánchíd (or Chain Bridge). But had a man named János Ruppenthal gotten his way, there’d be five on that list.
Toward the end of the 19th century, Budapest’s engineers were discussing ideas for people to get to the top of Gellért Hill. The tourist office got involved and asked locals to submit their ideas. Some suggested a cogwheel, others a funicular. Mr. Ruppenthal suggested building a tower in Pest (where Irányi utca leads out onto Belgrád rakpart). From this tower a bridge would span right to top of Gellért Hill. The design would be similar to the Ferenc József Bridge (Szabadság híd).
When an article about Ruppenthal’s idea appeared in the Vasárnapi Ujság (Sunday News), many Budapestians were outraged with this “mindless plan,” claiming that such an idea would disfigure the city “for eternity!” Still, Ruppenthal made his case to the city leaders, arguing that his bridge would be useful for tourists. After all, Ruppenthal reminded, the Parisians had initially baulked at the Eiffel Tower. “That was Paris,” the city leaders responded. “This is BUDAPEST!” In the end, the plan was rejected, and the case was closed.