This is one of Chicago's oldest surviving highway bascule bridges, an example of the first generation of bascule bridges built in Chicago and among the oldest surviving bascule bridges in North America. The success of these bridges had a profound influence on Chicago's decision to populate essentially the entire navigable river/canal system in the city with trunnion bascule bridges during the 20th Century. Further, these bridges were noted by a number of cities across the country who adopted the specific form of the trunnion bascule bridge which became known as the "Chicago trunnion bascule" bridge type. Each surviving bascule bridge of this first generation in Chicago is nationally significant and should be given the highest preservation priority. This specific bridge was the fourth bridge built in the city according to the first bascule bridge design, which was a complex part-through part-pony truss design as seen here. The superstructure for this bridge was built by Roemheld & Gallery and the Fitzsimmons and Connell Company (both of Chicago) constructed the substructure. Of the small number of surviving first generation bascule bridges in Chicago, this is one of the most heavily altered with a significant number of members, members toward the center of the bridge, having been replaced and/or rivets being replaced with bolts.
Above: Photos showing the previous Division Street swing bridge. This was the first documented bridge at this location and was an iron/wood combination swing bridge. It was hand-turned and built in 1869 by Fox and Howard. It was 180 feet long and 29 feet wide. When the bascule bridge construction began, the swing bridge was relocated to Blackhawk Street Bridge
Above: These photos show the construction of the substructure for the bascule bridge.
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Chicago and Cook County are home to one of the largest collections of historic bridges in the country, and no other city in the world has more movable bridges. HistoricBridges.org is proud to offer the most extensive coverage of historic Chicago bridges on the Internet.
Chicago / Cook County Bridge News
October 2015 - Patrick T. McBriarty, author of Chicago's River Bridges, informs HistoricBridges.org that in recognition for the "outstanding and original reference work that will support future scholarship in the history of technology", the book was awarded the biennial Eugene S. Ferguson Prize by the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) at the SHOT Annual Meeting's awards banquet. See press release. This is the third award for this book. Order Now Direct From The Publisher! or order on Amazon.
September 2015 - Fall Bridge Lift Season is Underway. View Schedule.
October 2014 - A visit to Chicago revealed that the Van Buren Street Pedestrian Bridge was not demolished, but instead extensively rehabbed. The railings are new, but replicate the original design. The concrete encasement was removed and not replaced, and instead the exposed riveted steel beams have been painted. The riveted beams look quite nice, and given the condition of the bridge prior to the project this seems like a good outcome. In other news, the rehabilitation and repainting of the La Salle Street Bridge is ongoing, and the project to extend the Chicago Riverwalk under additional bridges on the Main Branch is continuing.
September 2014 - Chicago's dubious distinction of offering numerous boat tours that pass under the bridges but offer narration only of the buildings has ended with the start of a Wendella tour that focuses on bridges! Information is here.
July 29, 2013 - A project study has been initiated for the reconstruction of historic North Lake Shore Drive. This project puts a large number of historic bridges at risk for demolition and replacement. However, it could also be an opportunity to rehabilitate the bridges. Visit the project website.
April 30, 2013 - Illinois Landmarks has included Chicago's Bascule Bridges as one of their Top 10 Most Endangered Historic Places. View The Official Page.
General Chicago / Cook County Bridge Resources
Chicago's Bridges - By Nathan Holth, author of HistoricBridges.org, this book provides a discussion of the history of Chicago's movable bridges, and includes a virtual tour discussing all movable bridges remaining in Chicago today. Despite this broad coverage, the book is presented in a compact format that is easy to take with you and carry around for reference on a visit to Chicago. The book includes dozens of full color photos. Only $9.95 U.S! ($11.95 Canadian). Order Now Direct From The Publisher! or order on Amazon.
Chicago River Bridges - By Patrick T. McBriarty, this is a great companion to Holth's book shown above. This much larger book offers an extremely in-depth exploration of Chicago's movable highway bridges, including many crossings that have not existed for many years. Order Now Direct From The Publisher! or order on Amazon.
Chicago Loop Bridges - Chicago Loop Bridges is another website on the Internet that is a great companion to the HistoricBridges.org coverage of the 18 movable bridges within the Chicago Loop. This website includes additional information such as connections to popular culture, overview discussions and essays about Chicago's movable bridges, additional videos, and current news and events relating to the bridges.
Additional Online Articles and Resources - This page is a large gathering of interesting articles and resources that HistoricBridges.org has uncovered during research, but which were not specific to a particular bridge listing.
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Bumpercam: Eastbound Crossing
Full Motion Video
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