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Adams Street Bridge

Adams Street Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: August 12, 2006, 2009-2011

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Adams Street (Historic US-66) Over South Branch Chicago River
Location
Chicago: Cook County, Illinois: United States
Structure Type
Metal Rivet-Connected Pratt Deck Truss, Movable: Double Leaf Bascule (Fixed Trunnion) and Approach Spans: Metal Stringer (Multi-Beam), Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1927 By Builder/Contractor: Strobel Steel Construction Company of Chicago, Illinois and Engineer/Design: City of Chicago

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
1996
Main Span Length
199 Feet (60.66 Meters)
Structure Length
250 Feet (76.2 Meters)
Roadway Width
38 Feet (11.58 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s) and 3 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
16600127340

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

Adams Street Bridge

A number of Chicago bridges have most of the trusses below the deck yet part of those trusses remain above the deck as in the State Street Bridge meaning the bridge has some characteristics of a deck truss as well as a pony truss, and were known as railing height trusses. The Adams Street Bridge is however one of the bridges in which the trusses are completely below the deck, making it a true deck truss. This configuration allows the trusses to be more visible to people rather than partially obscured by the deck of the bridge.

Because this bridge was built in a congested area with additional obstacles such as a railroad along the west side of the river the construction details for the trunnion and counterweight pit are not identical at each end, since engineers had to work around unique constraints at each end of the bridge. The 1926 Annual Report of the Public Works indicated that contractors also had to work around two buildings (described as the Farwell building and Ryerson building) that sat directly next to the abutments for the east end of the bridge. Some of the supports for the Ryerson buildings were modified to accommodate the bridge, while the Farwell building received a new foundation.

The bridge replaced a center pier swing bridge at this location.

Adams Street Bridge Raised

The clear span of the bridge is 173 Feet with the trunnion-to-trunnion length being 199 feet. The bridge is 64 feet wide. Navigational vertical clearance is 15.74 Feet.

In 1955 Adams Street was converted into a one way road, which made the street the westbound alignment for US-66. As such, this bridge is today a part of Historic Route 66.

In 2012, the sidewalk decks were replaced. At the time, the decks were reinforced concrete. The new sidewalk deck is a lightweight fiberglass material that has been employed on other Chicago bridges in recent years. The curb railings, which did not appear to be original and were as tall as the original sidewalk railings, were replaced. The new curb guardrails are a low profile two-tube guardrail.

Adams Street Bridge Tender House

A 1949 photo of the bridge tender house control room interior that included labels is shown above. Click the image to view an enlarged image where the labels are legible.

August 26, 2012 marked the 85th anniversary for this bridge. Click here to view a press release article about the 85th Anniversary from Chicago Loop Bridges.

Long ago, it may have been more obvious, but it is hard to tell today that immediately west of the bascule bridge is an approach viaduct that carries Adams Street over the many railroad tracks at Union Station, specifically, the tracks at the north side of the station. As of 2013, apparently a project is being planned to rehabilitate and replace portions of this approach viaduct. These changes are not planned to alter the historic significance of the bascule bridge however.

Edward H. BennettStrobel Steel Construction Company

The first documented bridge at Adams Street was built in 1869 as a hand-turned iron/wood combination bridge by Fox and Howard. The bridge was 160 feet long and 31 feet wide. It was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1871.

Former Adams Street Bridge

Above: This photo shows the second documented Adams Street Bridge. It was built in 1872 by the Keystone Bridge Company. The hand-turned iron swing bridge was 160 feet long and 32 feet wide.

Adams Street Bridge Construction and Previous BridgeAdams Street Bridge Previous Bridge Pier Demolition

Above: These photos include views of the third documented Adams Street Bridge, which preceded the existing bascule bridge. This bridge was built in 1889 and was a steel swing bridge built by the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio. The bridge was 259 feet long and 59 feet wide.

Main Plaque

WM HALE THOMPSON
MAYOR

RICHARD W. WOLFE
COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC WORKS

LORAN D. GAYTON
CITY ENGINEER

THOS. G. PIHLFELDT
ENGINEER OF BRIDGES
EDWARD F. MOORE
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC WORKS

MYRON B. REYNOLDS
ASSISTANT CITY ENGINEER

DONALD N. BECKER
ENGINEER OF BRIDGE DESIGN

CHICAGO PLAN COMMISSION

BENNETT PARSONS & FROST     CONSULTING ARCHITECTS

CHICAGO CHAPER OF AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS

ILLINOIS SOCIETY OF ARCHITECTS

CHICAGO ART COMMISSON

CLARENCE S. ROWE
ENGINEER OF BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION

FITZSIMONS & CONNELL DREDGE & DOCK CO.
SUBSTRUCTURE
CARL. O. JOHNSON
RESIDENT ENGINEER

STROBEL STEEL CONSTRUCTION CO.
SUPERSTRUCTURE

NORWOOD-NOONAN CO.
ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT
RALPH H. SIMPSON CO.
HOUSES & ENCLOSURES
HEATING SERVICE CO.
PLUMBING & HEATING

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General Chicago / Cook County Bridge Resources

Chicago's Bridges - By Nathan Holth, author of HistoricBridges.org, this book provides a discussion of the history of Chicago's movable bridges, and includes a virtual tour discussing all movable bridges remaining in Chicago today. Despite this broad coverage, the book is presented in a compact format that is easy to take with you and carry around for reference on a visit to Chicago. The book includes dozens of full color photos. Only $9.95 U.S! ($11.95 Canadian). Order Now Direct From The Publisher! or order on Amazon.

Chicago River Bridges - By Patrick T. McBriarty, this is a great companion to Holth's book shown above. This much larger book offers an extremely in-depth exploration of Chicago's movable highway bridges, including many crossings that have not existed for many years. Order Now Direct From The Publisher! or order on Amazon.

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Overview of Chicago Bascule Bridges (HAER Data Pages, PDF)

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.

Additional Online Articles and Resources - This page is a large gathering of interesting articles and resources that HistoricBridges.org has uncovered during research, but which were not specific to a particular bridge listing.

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Adams Street Bridge

 
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Bridge Photo-Documentation
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
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Bridge Photo-Documentation
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Video
Bridge Being Raised
Full Motion Video
Note: This video was taken on a tripod. The vibrations and shaking you see in the video are actually from the Jackson Boulevard Bridge as it experiences an ever-changing live load from passing traffic. Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
View Video
Bridge Being Raised
Full Motion Video
Taken June 2011 Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.

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