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Harrison Street Bridge

Harrison Street Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: August 12, 2006, 2010-2013

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Harrison Street Over South Branch Chicago River
Chicago: Cook County, Illinois: United States
Structure Type
Metal Rivet-Connected Pratt Railing Height Truss, Movable: Double Leaf Bascule (Fixed Trunnion) and Approach Spans: Metal Stringer (Multi-Beam), Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1960 By Builder/Contractor: Overland Construction Company of Chicago, Illinois and Engineer/Design: City of Chicago

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
210 Feet (64 Meters)
Structure Length
279 Feet (85 Meters)
Roadway Width
44 Feet (13.41 Meters)
1 Main Span(s) and 3 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

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Harrison Street Bridge

Harrison Street Bridge Construction

With a 1960 construction date this is one of the newest of Chicago's bascule bridges. It continues to use the the combination deck-pony truss design that had been in use in Chicago since 1922. The bridge's truss details are nearly identical in appearance to the earlier examples. That a truss bridge design was used with little changes over a period of 38 years is remarkable and is testimony to the effectiveness of the design.

This bridge has 23 Feet of navigational vertical clearance. The pedestrian railings of this bridge were replaced in 2006. Historical photos shown at right show that a previous bridge at this location was a deck truss Scherzer rolling lift bascule bridge.

While the plaque on this bridge does not list contractors, Divane Brothers Electric Company, who did work on other bridges, includes a photo of the opening of this bridge on their history page, suggesting they were the electrical contractors for this bridge. The photo lists the official opening day as Tuesday August 23, 1960.

Former Harrison Street Bridge

According to the 1958 Annual Report of the Public Works Department, the bridge was constructed with the previous bridge remaining open to traffic. Apparently as a result of the position of old and new abutments, this required the old bridge to operate as a single leaf bascule, so alterations were made to make this possible. Therefore, during construction, the crossing maintained for traffic was partly a temporary bridge and partly the previous bridge. The photo to the left of this narrative shows the bridge under construction, and it can be seen that only one leaf of the old bridge was able to be raised at this point. When completed, the bridge was able to be raised or lowered in 50 seconds. The cost of the bridge was $5,750,000.

The contractor for the substructure was the M. J. Boyle and Company who bid $898,575. The superstructure contractor was Overland Construction Company of Chicago who bid $2,373,846.50. Harry A. Thompson, Inc. bid $149,362.50 for removal of temporary construction, obstructions, and dredging.

The first documented bridge at this location was built by the American Bridge Company of Chicago in 1877 as an iron, hand-turned swing bridge. The bridge was 175 feet long and 31 feet wide. The bridge was replaced in 1905 by a steel Scherzer Rolling Lift bascule bridge under the direction of the Sanitary District of Chicago. The bridge was 247.4 feet long and 52 feet wide. The bridge superstructure contractor was Jackson and Corbett Bridge and Steel Works. The official contract language for the project can be viewed here.

Main Plaque


--- 1960 ---



Commissioner of Public Works

Chief Engineer

Chief Bridge Engineer

Asst. Chief Bridge Engineer
Bridge Design Engineer

Engineer of Bridge Constr.


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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: Harrison Street Bridge

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Bridge Being Raised
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
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Bridge Being Lowered
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.


Maps and Links: Harrison Street Bridge

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