This bridge is one of only three pony truss bascule bridges in Chicago which is composed of three truss lines instead of two, allowing the bridge to have a much wider roadway.
The substructure for this bridge was built by the Fitzsimmons and Connell Company of Chicago, who appears to have built most of the substructures for Chicago's bascule bridges. For most Chicago bridges, the superstructure was built by local contractors, or at least small contractors who are not well-known nationally. This bridge is an exception, with its superstructure being built by the Mount Vernon Bridge Company of Mount Vernon, Ohio. The Mount Vernon Bridge Company was one of the bridge companies that existed back during the height of the pin connected truss era, and built bridges like Michigan's Martin Road Bridge. The company did not die out or get absorbed by the American Bridge Company during the turn of the 20th century, and instead continued on as a bridge builder and fabricator allowing it to make an appearance here in Chicago during the 1930s.
This bridge was constructed with the aid of a temporary bobtail swing bridge built to carry traffic while the bascule bridge was constructed following demolition of the previous lift span. This temporary bobtail swing bridge was later reused as a temporary bridge for Ashland Avenue.
The first documented bridge at this location was built in 1861 and was a wooden bridge built by Fox and Howard. In 1872, this bridge was rebuilt by the King Iron Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio as an iron bridge. This bridge was destroyed by a collision with the Steamer Tioga on June 21, 1892. The next bridge at this location (which preceded the existing bridge) was one of the first modern vertical lift bridges constructed in the United States. As such, it enjoyed a great deal of attention from engineers and appeared in many different engineering texts and periodicals. The bridge was designed by J. A. L. Waddell, who became a leading designer and advocate for vertical lift bridges. The portal bracing for this bridge originally included three plaques, a large plaque in the center and two smaller circular plaques at the knee braces. The knee braces also had ornate scrollwork. The bridge superstructure was constructed by the Pittsburgh Bridge Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Above: Historical Photos Showing Previous Vertical Lift Bridge. Source: Library of Congress
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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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