This bascule bridge has very large and impressive trusses on account of its long span length. The bridge's trusses are tall like downtown Chicago's Clark Street Bridge, but do not have the smooth curve at the top of the tallest part of the trusses, even though both bridges are essentially the same design and are part of the same generation in terms of the development of the Chicago bascule bridge. This difference in truss curvature, which is somewhat less graceful in the 106th Street Bridge, is something shared with similar Sanitary and Ship Canal bridges, as well as other Calumet River bridges of similar design. This may indicate a lesser concern for aesthetics in these more industrial areas as opposed to the bridges in the downtown Loop, where the concern of aesthetics was paramount. Even so, the 106th Street Bridge has handsome bridgetender buildings although again these are not quite as elaborate as those found in the Loop. The bridge tender buildings consist of brick with belt courses of Indiana Limestone.
The bridge's trusses appear to be in good condition overall. The built-up riveted lateral bracing and floorbeams under the bridge have all been replaced with modern rolled beams. However, the abutments and bridgetender buildings are in a state of significant deterioration. Entire sections of walls have bricks falling out of them, and other areas of the walls that have been repaired were not done so in a very tasteful manner. Chicago has traditionally done a good job maintaining its bascule bridges, and even the trusses on this bridge are in good condition. It is therefore unclear why the substructure and buildings of this bridge are in contrast so neglected.
Like the other movable bridges on the Calumet River these are the most frequently operated movable bridges in Chicago. They are staffed by bridgetenders 24 hours a day and open fairly frequently each day for barge and other ship traffic. For barges, the bridge's leaves are normally only lifted partially. However HistoricBridges.org was able to photograph a full bridge lift during a field visit. The very large, historic bascule bridge, powered by electric motors, can open quite quickly, indeed far more quickly than many modern hydraulic-powered bascule bridges.
This bridge has fences and industrial properties surrounding it, making it impossible to get beside or under the bridge from on land, therefore requiring a boat to get a full photo-documentation of the bridge. Thanks to Tom Winkle for providing boat transportation to assist in the photo-documentation of this historic bridge.
The 1930 Annual Report of the Public Works Department provided some interesting details about the construction of this bridge. The bascule bridge actually opened to traffic in Fall 1929. At this time, the bridge structure was completed, but the bridge tender houses were not complete, so operation of the bridge was conducted in a temporary building. The previous bridge at this location was a center pier swing bridge. Fitzsimons & Connell Dredge & Dock Company constructed the substructure. Ketler-Elliott Company constructed the superstructure. Ralph H. Simpson Company constructed the bridge tender houses. Pierce Electric Company installed electrical equipment. William J. Gormley Company installed the plumbing. Central Dredging Company and Fitzsimons & Connell Dredge & Dock Company both played a role in removing the previous bridge.
The first documented bridge at this location was the bridge that preceded the existing bridge. It was constructed at an unknown date and was a hand-turned iron swing bridge with a length of 179 feet and a width of 31 feet.
Main Plaque106TH STREET BRIDGE
CITY OF CHICAGO
WM HALE THOMPSON
RICHARD W. WOLFE
COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC WORKS
EDWARD F. MOORE
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC WORKS
CHICAGO PLAN COMMISSION
FITZSIMONS & CONNELL DREDGE & DOCK CO.
KELLY-ATKINSON CONSTRUCTION CO.
PIERCE ELECTRIC CO.
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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.
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