HistoricBridges.org Menu: HistoricBridges.org Menu:

Bach Steel - Experts at historic truss bridge restoration.

HistoricBridges.org: Bridge Browser

Summer Street Bridge

Summer Street Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 12, 2008
View Photos
and Videos
View Maps
and Links

Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Summer Street Over Fort Point Channel
Boston: Suffolk County, Massachusetts: United States
Structure Type
Metal Deck Girder, Movable: Retractile and Approach Spans: Metal Deck Girder, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1899 By Builder/Contractor: Berlin Iron Bridge Company of East Berlin, Connecticut

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
89.6 Feet (27.31 Meters)
Structure Length
502 Feet (153.01 Meters)
Roadway Width
32.2 Feet (9.81 Meters)
1 Main Span(s) and 4 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Data Pages, PDF

View Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) Inventory Forms For This Historic Bridge

This bridge is one of only a handful of bridges in the country to display the retractile bridge design. In a retractile bridge, the bridge rolls back off of the waterway using a system of tracks and rollers. In the case of Summer Street, the bridge is a paired oblique double-leaf retractile bridge, which means that two sections of the bridge roll back at an angle away from the road and river on the same side of the river. The Summer Street Bridge is the only such example in the country known to survive today. The benefits and ease of constructing other movable bridge types meant that the retractile was never a popular movable bridge type. Although the bridge tender building and much of the machinery that allowed this bridge to operate is removed, this bridge remains today one of the most important movable bridges in the country, as an example of the rarest general movable bridge design (the other general designs being swing, bascule, and vertical lift). The key parts of the retractile design remain in place for historical interpretation, although it appears the overall superstructure which is largely hidden by the original, unaltered outermost set of girders, may be modern and non-historic. However, the tracks and rollers that this bridge would have rolled back on remain unaltered. In addition, the overhead bracing and stabilizing stays, which are called "Samson Posts" also remain.

This bridge is also significant as one of the final examples of the Berlin Iron Bridge Company (made famous by its patented lenticular truss bridges), before the company became a part of the American Bridge Company.


Photos and Videos: Summer Street Bridge

Available Photo Galleries and Videos

Click on a thumbnail or gallery name below to visit that particular photo gallery. If videos are available, click on a video name to view and/or download that particular video.

View Photo Gallery
Bridge Photo-Documentation
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
View Photo Gallery
Bridge Photo-Documentation
Mobile Optimized Gallery
A collection of overview and detail photos. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
Browse Gallery With Popup Viewer

View Maps
and Links

Home Top


About - Contact

© Copyright 2003-2018, HistoricBridges.org. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer: HistoricBridges.org is a volunteer group of private citizens. HistoricBridges.org is NOT a government agency, does not represent or work with any governmental agencies, nor is it in any way associated with any government agency or any non-profit organization. While we strive for accuracy in our factual content, HistoricBridges.org offers no guarantee of accuracy. Information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. Information could include technical inaccuracies or errors of omission. Opinions and commentary are the opinions of the respective HistoricBridges.org member who made them and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone else, including any outside photographers whose images may appear on the page in which the commentary appears. HistoricBridges.org does not bear any responsibility for any consequences resulting from the use of this or any other HistoricBridges.org information. Owners and users of bridges have the responsibility of correctly following all applicable laws, rules, and regulations, regardless of any HistoricBridges.org information.