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Canal Street Bridge

Canal Street Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: August 12, 2006, October 2010, and May 2012

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Canal Street Over South Branch Chicago River
Chicago: Cook County, Illinois: United States
Structure Type
Metal Rivet-Connected Pratt Pony Truss, Movable: Double Leaf Bascule (Fixed Trunnion) and Approach Spans: Metal Stringer (Multi-Beam), Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1949 By Builder/Contractor: Mount Vernon Bridge Company of Mount Vernon, Ohio and Engineer/Design: City of Chicago
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
254.0 Feet (77.4 Meters)
Structure Length
350.0 Feet (106.7 Meters)
Roadway Width
44 Feet (13.41 Meters)
1 Main Span(s) and 4 Approach Span(s)
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Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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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

Canal Street Bridge Machinery Room

This is Chicago's longest-spanning pony truss trunnion bascule bridge. It is also one of the newer examples with a 1949 construction date. This bridge's superstructure was built by the Mount Vernon Bridge Company of Mount Vernon, Ohio. The Mount Vernon Bridge Company is of interest because it is one of a few bridge companies that built pin connected truss bridges in the late 19th century and did not go out of business or get bought out in the 20th century.

This bridge was painted white for many years but by 2010 had been repainted the maroon color that Chicago has switched to as its preferred bridge paint color.

Canal Street Bridge Construction

The first documented bridge at this location was a bridge listed in the Annual Report of the Department of Public Works as a Howe truss built by A. Gottlieb and Company. Soon after it was built, the United States Government condemned the bridge as an obstruction to navigation, so it was relocated and reused at Belmont Avenue in 1892. In 1893, a rare and unusual folding jack-knife bridge was built at this location which provided an 89 foot span with an overall length of 100 feet and a width of 35 feet. The bridge was listed as being made of steel and was built by Shailer and Schniglau. Operated by steam, this bridge was the second example of this ultimately unsuccessful bridge type, the first having been built at Weed Street in 1891 under a patent by Captain William Harmon. In 1903, a Scherzer rolling lift bascule bridge replaced the folding bridge. The bascule bridge superstructure contractor was the American Bridge Company.

Canal Street Bridge Raised

Photo Credit: Patrick Hynes

Canal Street Bridge Conceptual DrawingCanal Street Bridge Conceptual Drawing

Canal Street Bridge Construction

Previous Canal Street BridgePrevious Canal Street BridgePrevious Canal Street Bridge

Main Plaque


--- 1949 ---



Commissioner of Public Works

Deputy Comm. of Public Works

City Engineer

City Bridge & Viad. Engineer

Asst. City Bridge and Viad. Engineer
Asst. Bridge Engineer (Design)

Asst. Bridge Engineer (Constr.)


Midwest Construction & Asphalt Co.

The Mount Vernon Bridge Co.

Simpson Construction Co.

Divane Bros. Electric Co.


Previous Canal Street Folding Jack-Knife BridgePrevious Canal Street Folding Jack-Knife Bridge


Historic Bridges of Chicago and Cook County

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Chicago and Cook County are home to one of the largest collections of historic bridges in the country, and no other city in the world has more movable bridges. HistoricBridges.org is proud to offer the most extensive coverage of historic Chicago bridges on the Internet.

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.


Photo Galleries and Videos: Canal Street Bridge


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