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Summer Street Bridge

   


Summer Street Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 12, 2008
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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Summer Street Over Fort Point Channel
Location
Boston: Suffolk County, Massachusetts
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
1998
Main Span Length
89.6 Feet (27.3 Meters)
Structure Length
502 Feet (153 Meters)
Roadway Width
32.2 Feet (9.8 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s) and 4 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
B16031389MUNNBI

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.

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Photos and Videos: Summer Street Bridge

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