With a 1915 construction date, this bridge is one of the oldest of the deck truss style bascule bridges in Chicago, and is thus historically significant. During this time. Joseph Strauss and his Strauss Bascule Bridge Company had various conflicts with the City of Chicago because he felt his patents were being violated by the city. In this case however, the Strauss Bascule Bridge Company served as a consulting engineer. There is a second little plaque on this bridge that says this Strauss Trunnion Bascule bridge is operated under license by the Strauss Bascule Bridge Company. Another oddity of this bridge is that unlike most of the downtown loop bridges, the Sanitary District of Chicago took the lead in building this bridge. The City of Chicago was apparently lacking money at the time and their was pressure to remove swing bridges from the river. This bridge replaced an 1888 swing bridge that consisted of a 17 panel Camelback truss with three truss lines providing a 58 foot wide and 280 foot long bridge.
The bridge's superstructure was built by the Strobel Steel Construction Company, while the substructure was built by the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company. The bridge has a clear span of 173.5 Feet (202 Feet trunnion to trunnion length), 15.74 feet navigational vertical clearance, and the bridge is 64 feet wide.
This bridge is visually appealing because its arch is very smooth and has a graceful appearance to it compared to the more polygonal appearance of other Chicago deck truss bridges.
Beginning in 1933, Jackson Boulevard including this bridge was part of US-66. As such, the bridge is today part of Historic Route 66.
Thomas Alexander Smyth, president of the Sanitary District of Chicago when this bridge was constructed is shown in a portrait to the right. At the bottom of this page, a portrait of the Chief Bridge Engineer for the Sanitary District, Carlton Dart, is shown.
Although it may have been considered ugly and utilitarian at the time it was built, if it stood today, the previous (and first documented) bridge at this location would been a stunning example of Victorian bridge construction. The bridge was built in 1888 by the Detroit Bridge Company and consisted of a large pin-connected through truss center pier swing bridge. It was 280 feet long and 59 feet wide. As a wide bridge, it included three truss lines, with the center truss line dividing the roadway into two halves. The bridge included a beautiful ornamental portal bracing design topped off with a highly ornate portal cresting and finials. Although a center-pier swing bridge, the pier was not located in the water, but instead rested on the western shore. The eastern half of the swing span crossed the river, while the other half carried the roadway over railroad tracks. There was also a fixed span at the western end of the crossing that provided an approach to the bridge, crossing over additional railroad tracks. Like the swing bridge, this structure was also a pin-connected through truss with an ornate portal design. It also included ornate sidewalk railings and a builder plaque mounted on the portal bracing.
Main PlaqueERECTED 1915 BY
THE SANITARY DISTRICT OF CHICAGO
----- BOARD OF TRUSTEES -----
THOMAS A. SMYTH, PRESIDENT
Patent PlaqueSTRAUSS TRUNNION BASCULE BRIDGE
PATENT NO. 995813
OPERATED UNDER LICENSE
THE STRAUSS BASCULE BRIDGE CO.
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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.
Chicago / Cook County Bridge News
October 2015 - Patrick T. McBriarty, author of Chicago's River Bridges, informs HistoricBridges.org that in recognition for the "outstanding and original reference work that will support future scholarship in the history of technology", the book was awarded the biennial Eugene S. Ferguson Prize by the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) at the SHOT Annual Meeting's awards banquet. See press release. This is the third award for this book. Order Now Direct From The Publisher! or order on Amazon.
September 2015 - Fall Bridge Lift Season is Underway. View Schedule.
October 2014 - A visit to Chicago revealed that the Van Buren Street Pedestrian Bridge was not demolished, but instead extensively rehabbed. The railings are new, but replicate the original design. The concrete encasement was removed and not replaced, and instead the exposed riveted steel beams have been painted. The riveted beams look quite nice, and given the condition of the bridge prior to the project this seems like a good outcome. In other news, the rehabilitation and repainting of the La Salle Street Bridge is ongoing, and the project to extend the Chicago Riverwalk under additional bridges on the Main Branch is continuing.
September 2014 - Chicago's dubious distinction of offering numerous boat tours that pass under the bridges but offer narration only of the buildings has ended with the start of a Wendella tour that focuses on bridges! Information is here.
July 29, 2013 - A project study has been initiated for the reconstruction of historic North Lake Shore Drive. This project puts a large number of historic bridges at risk for demolition and replacement. However, it could also be an opportunity to rehabilitate the bridges. Visit the project website.
April 30, 2013 - Illinois Landmarks has included Chicago's Bascule Bridges as one of their Top 10 Most Endangered Historic Places. View The Official Page.
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.
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.
Original / Full Size Photos
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Mobile Optimized Photos
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Raising Bridge, Portal
Full Motion Video
|Taken June 2011 Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.|
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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