Photo Credit: Patrick Hynes
This is rare example... indeed one of only three... examples of very wide pony truss bascule bridges in Chicago that feature three pony truss lines to carry a wide roadway. This bridge was built in 1938, with the superstructure contractor being the Ketler-Elliot Company, the the substructure contractor being Fitzsimons and Connell Dredge and Dock. This bridge is also associated with depression-related funding, and this is shown by the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works label on the plaque. The design composed of three truss lines combined with original, handsomely decorated bridgetender buildings, as well as the Depression funded nature of the bridge make this structure stand out as one of the most historically and technologically significant highway bridges on the Sanitary and Ship Canal.
This bridge still operates for boats, thanks to the Chicago Yacht Yard, which is located along the canal on the west side of Ashland Street. Moving southwest down the canal, the bridge is also the final bridge that still operates for boats. It is interesting to note that if the yacht yard were located on the other side of the road, this bridge would likely no longer lift.
Carnegie Steel marks are found on some of this bridge's steel indicating the source of at least some of the steel used in this bridge.
The first documented bridge at this location was a 160 foot long, 20.5 foot wide iron hand-turned swing bridge built in 1883 by the Detroit Bridge Company. This was followed by the immediate predecessor to the current bridge, which was built in 1902 by the Chicago Bridge and Iron Company. This was a rare Page type bascule bridge. When it was replaced with the current bridge, a temporary bridge was erected next to it to keep the road open to traffic during construction. The temporary bridge was a bobtail swing bridge that was previously used on the Halsted Street Bridge over South Branch Chicago River.
The 1936 Annual Report of the Department of Public Works specified the role the various contractors listed on the bridge plaque played in constructing this bridge. The Overland Construction Company erected the temporary bridge. The Fitz Simmons and Connell Dredge and Dock Company built the substructure. The Ketler-Elliott erected the superstructure. Electrical equipment was installed by the Garden City Engineering Company. The approach was built by the Mid-West Construction Company.
Main PlaqueSO. ASHLAND AVE. BRIDGE
FEDERAL EMERGENCY ADMINISTRATION
OF PUBLIC WORKS
PROJECT - ILLINOIS - 1170
CITY OF CHICAGO
EDWARD J. KELLY
OSCAR E. HEWITT
COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC WORKS
JOHN O. WILSON
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC WORKS
LORAN D. GAYTON
CHICAGO PLAN COMMISSION
A. A. SPRAGUE CHAIRMAN
HUGH E. YOUNG CHIEF ENGINEER
THE KETLER-ELLIOTT CO.
FITZ SIMMONS AND CONNELL DREDGE AND DOCK
GARDEN CITY ENGINEERING CO.
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