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.
Complete Bridge List
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General Chicago / Cook County Bridge Resources
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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.
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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Raising Bridge, Portal
Full Motion Video
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Bridge Being Raised
Full Motion Video
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