Stately Willemsbrug bridge (built in 1981) over the Nieuwe Maas connects the city centre with Noordereiland. Drivers coming on and off the bridge must make somewhat dramatic 90° turns, which were incorporated into the bridge’s design under pressure from local residents in order to prevent traffic problems around the historic Oude Haven and on Oranjeboomstraat. The bridge was awarded the National Steel Prize in 1983.
The bridge that stands today is the second Willemsbrug bridge. The first, built in 1878, played an important role in the Second World War. During the German offensive on 10 May 1940, Marines from the barracks at Oostplein defended the bridge so well that the Germans, unable to enter Rotterdam, decided to bomb the city instead, which they did on 14 May. The remains of the original bridge can still be seen from a viewer on nearby Boompjes quay.