Providence Island, Monrovia, Liberia (8 images)

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The Monrovia area was already inhabited when it was named Cape Mesurado by Portuguese sailors in the 1560s. With the aim of establishing a self-sufficient colony for emancipated American survivors of slavery, something that had already been accomplished in Freetown, the first settlers from the United States under the auspices of the American Colonization Society arrived in Africa in 1821.

They landed at Sherbro Island in present-day Sierra Leone. The undertaking was a shambles and many settlers died. In April1822, a second ship rescued the settlers and took them to Cape Mesurado, establishing the settlement of Christopolis, despite resistance from indigenous people. Within a short time, under the leadership of settler Jehudi Ashmun, the foundations for a country were established.

In 1845, Monrovia was the site of the constitutional convention held by the American Colonization Society which drafted the constitution that would two years later be the constitution of an independent and sovereign Republic of Liberia. Completed in 1979, the Gabriel Johnson Tucker Bridge crosses the Mesurado River and connects mainland Monrovia to Via Town/ Bushrod Island. Before the bridge was built the ferry was the only way to the island. Two sets of spiraling stairways descend on both sideS of the bridge to Providence Island. It is also known as the Johnson Street Bridge or the New Bridge.

The Mesurado Bridge, also known as the Old Bridge or Via Town Bridge, also crossed the Mesurado River into Via town, Bushrod Island, but collapsed during the night during 2006. The collapse of this strategic artery added a major and significant financial burden on the Sirleaf government. The bridge had never had regular maintenance since the 1940s or a major overhaul during the intervening years. During the years (1960s) of economic prosperity (for the elite) and stability in Liberia, we anticipated the bridge would collapse at any time. Some say that the ill fate of the Mesurado Bridge awaits other bridges of strategic importance in the country's transportation system. The three most important of these are the St. Paul Bridge, the Stephen Tolbert Bridge, and the bridge linking Lofa County with Bong County.