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Historic Bridges of Chicago and Cook County

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Additional Resources

General Movable and Chicago-Related Bridge Information

Excerpts From J. A. L. Waddell's Bridge Engineering Discussing Movable Bridges - A 1916 discussion of the different types of movable bridges with a focus on bascule bridges. Alternate color high res scan.

Excerpts From J. A. L. Waddell's Bridge Engineering Discussing Elevated Railroads - A 1916 discussion of these bridge-like structures that are so much a part of Chicago.

Types of Movable Bridges - A discussion of movable bridge types from a 1914 edition of the Journal of the Western Society of Engineers.

Types of Movable Bridges - A discussion of movable bridge types from the Brooklyn Engineers Club.

Bascule Bridges - A paper about bascule bridges by Joseph Strauss. Includes photos.

Bascule Bridges - A paper about Scherzer rolling lift bascule bridges. Includes photos.

Various Chicago Thesis Papers - These thesis papers bascule bridges with a focus on designs found in Chicago.

Movable Bridges Volume 1, Superstructures and Movable Bridges Volume 2, Machinery - These large volumes offer highly detailed engineering discussion about movable bridges.

Chicago Bridges - A discussion of several of Chicago's movable bridges from the perspective of architect Edward H. Bennett.

Chicago Bridges - A discussion of several of Chicago's movable bridges from the perspective of Joseph Strauss.

Armour Engineering Articles - Two articles about the development of the Chicago fixed trunnion bascule bridge.

Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company - A 1908 catalog for this important bridge company.

Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company - A 1916 catalog for this important bridge company.

Strauss Bascule Bridge Company - A 1920 catalog for this important bridge company.

Strauss Bascule Bridge Company - A 1910 pamphlet for this important bridge company.

Norwood Noonan Company - A catalog about this electrical contractor who supplied electrical equipment for numerous Chicago bridges.

Information About Specific Chicago Bridges

Weed Street Bridge Article and Drawing - Reading into the history of Chicago's long-gone movable bridges usually results in reading about folding or "jack knife" bridges. This article discusses and presents a diagram for an example of this bizarre and little-known type of movable bridge.

Historic Chicago Railroad Bridges Landmark Designation Report - This 2006 report describes the history and significance of several railroad bridges as justification for their designation as Chicago Landmarks.

City Records and Reports Relating To Bridges

Excerpts From The 1901 Annual Report of the Department of Public Works - This particular report is of interest because it discusses the completion of the Cortland Street Bridge, then known as the Clybourn Place Bridge. Photos of the previous bridge and the newly completed bridge in closed and open position are included. Progress on other bridges from the period is discussed as well.

Excerpts From The 1906 Annual Report of the Department of Public Works - This particular report is of interest because it discusses the patent conflicts city engineers had with the Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company. In the interest of defending the city's use of the trunnion bascule and why they felt rolling lift bridges were not preferable, the report describes the differences between trunnion and rolling lift bascule. Also has period photos and drawings of bridges in existence or being built during this period. An interesting contrast to this document is a period publication by the Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company promoting the qualities of a rolling lift bascule.

Excerpts From The 1907 Annual Report of the Department of Public Works - This particular report is of interest because it discusses the completion of the North Avenue Bridge. Progress on other bridges from the period is discussed as well. Photos of the newly complete bridge are included. There also is a photo of the Paulina Connector Railroad Bridge and another old through truss bridge. Also included for general interest is a tally of horses in the city and drawings for several city tunnels.

Additional Annual Reports of the Department of Public Works With Bridge Information

1887, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1898, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1915, 1919

Movable Bridge Patents Relating To Chicago

Von Babo Bascule Bridge Patent - This is essentially the patent for the Chicago type trunnion bascule bridge.

Hugh E. Young Bascule Bridge Patent - This is a subsequent Chicago trunnion bascule bridge patent.

Strauss Bascule Bridge Patent - This is the patent that Strauss used to defend his particular design for trunnion bascule bridges from the City of Chicago which was at one point found to have violated the patent. Strauss held many other movable bridge patents, some which appear to have never been used. Some of his other patents include 1542972, 1561671, 1798506, 1615891, 1714699, 1810034, 1778234, 1241052, 1211639, 1170703, 1680821. He also had a patent for a locking mechanism including a rear end lock, a patent for the connections at the trunnion. For a short time, Strauss also built unique ribbed concrete arch bridges, and his patent 762361 covers this design.

First Scherzer Rolling Lift Patent and Second Scherzer Rolling Lift Patent - Popular before Chicago adopted the trunnion bascule bridge, and the main competition to trunnion bascules nationwide, Scherzer led the way in the world of rolling lift bridges with these two patents. Scherzer held many other movable bridge patents, some which appear to have never been used. Some of their other patents include 1041885, 1104318, 735414, 752563, 1047950, 1021488, 1370999, 963399, 1109792, 719153 They also had a patent for a locking mechanism.

Waddell Lift Bridge Patent - J. A. L. Waddell was a famous bridge engineer who worked with all types of bridges, but among movable bridges he was noted for his support and skill with lift bridges. This is Waddell's lift bridge patent. Waddell also worked with J. L. Harrington. Harrington produced the following additional vertical lift patents: 932359, 952486, 1027477, 1049422, 1285696.

Rall Bascule Bridge Patent - The patent for the Rall type of bascule bridge, of which there is one extant example in Chicago.

Page Bascule Bridge - The patent for the Page type of bascule bridge, of which there is one extant example in Chicago.

Harman Folding Bridge Patent - This extremely unusual design of movable bridge was built at two crossing in the 1890s in Chicago. The odd design did not last long and these bridges were replaced.

Metal Grating Deck - Here is a sample patent that explores the benefits of a metal grate deck in bascule bridges.

People

William Scherzer - Short biography of the inventor of the Scherzer rolling lift bridge and his brother Albert.

William Scherzer - Another short biography of William Scherzer and his brother Albert.

William Scherzer and Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company - A short biography of William Scherzer and his brother Albert and the Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company.

William Scherzer - William Scherzer obituary.

By-Products of Idle Hours - Joseph Strauss, engineer, champion, and patentee of the trunnion bascule bridge designs who also is given credit for the design of the Golden Gate Bridge (although he didn't really do much design work himself, taking credit for Charles Alton Ellis's work) apparently also had the hobby of writing poetry as this book demonstrates.

John Ericson Biography - A short biography of the Chicago Engineer who led the design of the Chicago fixed trunnion bascule type.

General Chicago History

1909 Plan of Chicago

The 1909 Plan of Chicago, also called the Burnham Plan, was a famous 1909 plan for the development of Chicago that influenced the development of the city, as well as the science of city planning in general. The design of some of Chicago's bridges were influenced by this plan. The Internet Archive has digitized the 1909 Plan of Chicago and related materials. HistoricBridges.org is offering PDF copies of the documents that are of higher quality than the PDFs offered on the Internet Archive itself, allowing the beautiful pictures in the documents to be fully appreciated.

Plan of Chicago - This is the official plan document.

Wacker's Manual of the Plan of Chicago - A textbook guide to the plan of Chicago.

1911 Chicago Plan - Another city planning document produced in 1911.

1893 World's Columbian Exposition

The 1893 World's Columbian Exposition was an extremely influential event both in terms of Chicago's history and even to an extent the history of the United States as a whole. It also came to be seen as a symbol of Chicago's recovery from the Great Fire. Of interest to bridge historians, there were a number of bridges to be found within the exposition site. The Internet Archive has digitized publications relating to the exposition. HistoricBridges.org is offering PDF copies of the documents that are of higher quality than the PDFs offered on the Internet Archive itself, allowing the beautiful pictures in the documents to be fully appreciated.

Official Guide - This would have been handed out to people attending the exposition. It however remains useful today since it contains a detailed description of the attractions of the event.

Midway Plaisance Guide - A supplement to the above guide that has information on attractions for this neighboring location during the exposition.

Official Photo Album - A collection of photos of the exposition that the organizers created.

World's Fair Album - A third party publication that was a collection of photos of the exposition.

World's Fair Souvenir Album - A third party publication that was a collection of photos. This book also has some photos from the city of Chicago itself, as well as some photos showing the devastation of the 1871 Great Fire.

Other

Souvenir of Wacker Drive - A short pamphlet about the construction of Wacker Drive.

Additional Photos

Additional Photos Gallery - This photo gallery has photos taken from skyscrapers in Chicago that show an overview of the Chicago River and its bridges. These photos did not fit into a specific bridge page and so are here in their own gallery. All photos are in a high resolution. Also in this gallery are historical photos of bridges at crossings no longer in existance.

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