Some may recognize this bridge as the bridge that was made famous when it made an appearance in the Blues Brothers movie when the Bluesmobile jumps over the bridge in the raised position. In the movie, the bridge was painted the white color that the city used to paint its bridges until the city switched to the maroon color seen today.
This is one of the latest examples of the pony truss bascule bridge design that features curved pony trusses with riveted connections as was fairly common in Chicago. The bridge was opened to traffic on June 27, 1958. This bridge still operates for boats as do all the Calumet River bascule bridges. This bridge is a wide six lane structure. The bridge tower and abutments reflect the unadorned and perhaps somewhat streamlined architecture of the period. The bridge was designed to operate with 100 H.P. motors powering each leaf.
According to the Annual Report of the Public Works Department, the contract for the construction of this bridge's superstructure went to the Overland Construction Company, whose bid was $2,551,597. The Electrical equipment contracted was awarded to the Fries-Walters Company on a bid of $488,810. The substructure was built by the Kenny Construction Company with a bid of $1,147,500. Overall, the bridge constructed about $5,700,000 to construct. Dick Van Gorp, pictured below, was Chicago's Chief Engineer when this bridge was built.
The first documented bridge at this location was described in the Annual Report of the Public Works Department as a hand-operated "Howe truss" built in 1891 by the Chicago Forge and Bolt Company. The next bridge at this location (which directly preceded the existing bridge) was one of the first fixed trunnion bascule bridges to be designed by Chicago. It was built by Roemheld and Gallery and was 319.5 feet long and 60 feet wide. However, its on-site construction was not completed before the Cortland Street Bridge was finished, also designed around the same time, so the Cortland Street Bridge is acknowledged as the first Chicago fixed trunnion bascule bridge.
Thanks to Tom Winkle for providing boat transportation to assist in the photo-documentation of this historic bridge.
Main PlaqueEAST 95TH STREET
THIRD AT THIS SITE
--- 1958 ---
CITY OF CHICAGO
RICHARD J. DALEY
GEORGE L. DE MENT
Commissioner of Public Works
DICK VAN GORP
STEPHEN J. MICHUDA
Chief Bridge Engineer
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