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Monroe Street Bridge

Monroe Street Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: August 12, 2006, 2009, and 2010

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and Videos
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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Monroe Street Over South Branch Chicago River
Location
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
1919 By Builder/Contractor: Ketler-Elliott Company of Chicago, Illinois and Engineer/Design: City of Chicago

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
2001
Main Span Length
193 Feet (59 Meters)
Structure Length
271 Feet (83 Meters)
Roadway Width
36 Feet (10.97 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s) and 3 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
16603626643

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

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

This bridge celebrates its 95th Anniversary on February 22, 2014! Click Here To View A Commemoration Article By ChicagoLoopBridges.com!

Monroe Street Bridge

 

Monroe Street Bridge Bridge Tender House

This bridge was the first Chicago bascule bridge to have a smoothly-curved pony truss design for a movable bridge, and was the generation of trunnion bascule bridges that succeeded the somewhat clunky looking bridge design seen on bridges such as Grand Avenue. The Monroe Street Bridge however still has the clunky looking detail at the ends of the trusses like the Grand Avenue type bascules. Later examples of this bridge design would have a more aesthetically pleasing curved detail at the ends in addition to the smoothly curved detail in the center. The Franklin Street Bridge is one such later example.

The bridge's operating and control panels inside the bridgetender buildings were reportedly the first in the United States to have completely enclosed circuitry so that no exposed copper connections were available for bridgetenders to mistakenly electrocute themselves on.

The navigational vertical clearance of the bridge is 18.7 Feet. The clear span of the bridge is 165.5 feet, while the trunnion-to-trunnion length is 193 feet. The bridge is 60 feet wide.

Hugh E. Young Chicago Engineer of Bridge Design

The Monroe Street Bridge is unique because the engineers had to do some very special technical and mechanical design to get this bridge to fit near to Union Station which was under construction at the time and takes up substantial space below the roadway level of Monroe Street. To ensure that room remained for the Union Station underground facilities, the counterweight, which is under the road on this type of bridge, was changed at one end only. At the west end, engineers used a smaller counterweight using heavier cast iron instead of concrete. The east end however had the standard concrete sized counterweight. There is a more technical description of this available in the HAER entry for this bridge.

Monroe Street Bridge

On the western end of the bridge, where the smaller counterweight is used, steel blocks used to help counterweight the bridge actually extend above the deck level and are attached to the ends of the trusses. Some of these blocks may be later additions, but a historical photo of the bridge from 1919 does appear to show some counterweight blocks on this end of the bridge. This is likely further indication of the limited space below the roadway and a creative method the city designed to add weight to this end of the bridge. Sometimes over the course of a bascule bridge's history, counterweights would need to be made heavier or lighter, usually in response to changes made to the deck design. On this bridge, the blocks that rest on the west end of the bridge on top of the top chord, do not appear in the 1919 photo and thus appear to be an example of weights added to the bridge at a later date.

The 1919 photo, shown to the right, also shows unusual concrete pillars at the end of the bridge. These appear to have been decorative, but also appear to have contained a "Stop" signal to alert drivers when the bridge was being raised. The arched overhead beams seen in the photo are for holding the cables for the street cars that once were found on numerous Chicago streets. Many of Chicago's movable bridges originally had these arched overhead beams, but all have been removed today.

Monroe Street Bridge Raised

Charles R. FrancisJohn Ericson

Monroe Street Bridge Construction

Main Plaque

WILLIAM HALE THOMPSON
MAYOR

CHARLES R. FRANCIS
COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC WORKS

WILLIAM BURKHARDT
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC WORKS

JOHN ERICSON
CITY ENGINEER

THOS. G. PIHLFELDT
ENGINEER OF BRIDGES

HUGH E. YOUNG
ENGINEER OF BRIDGE DESIGN
CLARENCE S. ROWE
ENGINEER OF CONSTRUCTION

BUILT BY
CHICAGO UNION STATION CO.

CHICAGO PLAN COMMISSION
ILL. CHAP. AMER. INST. ARCHT'S

SUBSTRUCTURE
FITZSIMONS & CONNELL D. & D. CO.

SUPERSTRUCTURE
THE KETLER-ELLIOTT ERECTION CO.

THE ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT INSTALLED BY C. H. NORWOOD

1919

Rehabilitation Plaque

MONROE STREET BRIDGE
- 2008 -
CITY OF CHICAGO

RICHARD M. DALEY
MAYOR

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

THOMAS G. BYRNE
COMMISSIONER

THOMAS H. POWERS, P.E.
FIRST DEPUTY COMMISSIONER

DIVISION OF ENGINEERING

JOHN YONAN, P.E.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER

DANIEL BURKE, S.E., P.E.
CHIEF BRIDGE ENGINEER

THOMAS P. AMBRY, AIA
PROJECT DIRECTOR

CHRISTOPHER A. KENT, P.E.
CHIEF CONSTRUCTION ENGINEER

FREDDY R. FLORES
PROJECT MANAGER

CHUCK SHUM
RESIDENT ENGINEER

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Historic Bridges of Chicago and Cook County

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Complete Bridge List

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.

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Monroe Street Bridge

 
View Photo Gallery
Structure Overview
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Details
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Overview
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Details
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Video
Raising Bridge, Elevation
Full Motion Video
Taken June 2011. Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
View Video
Raising Bridge, Portal View
Full Motion Video
Note: The downloadable high quality version of this video (available on the video page) is well worth the download since it offers excellent 1080 HD detail and is vastly more impressive than the compressed streaming video. Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
View Video
Lowering Bridge, Portal View
Full Motion Video
Note: The downloadable high quality version of this video (available on the video page) is well worth the download since it offers excellent 1080 HD detail and is vastly more impressive than the compressed streaming video. Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.

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Maps and Links: Monroe Street Bridge

Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):

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