There were once many more of these bridges remaining over this massive set of railroad tracks that parallels US-41 (Lakeshore Drive) heading north to downtown Chicago. This bridge is noteworthy today as the only remaining vehicular example that retains historic integrity. The bridge features attractive balustrade railings, which are the primary aesthetic feature on the bridge. The superstructure features riveted built-up i-beams. Stringers and diaphragms are encased in concrete, with the exception of the bottom which is exposed metal. Substructure consists of concrete piers (which feature an arched design) and concrete abutments.
The bridge is listed as Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. While Illinois does not make Historic Bridge Inventory Data available, it is presumed this determination was at least partly based on the fact that this is an early stringer bridge that has not been altered by the replacement of original railings.
As mentioned, the bridge retains excellent historic integrity. One one alteration was noted, where a section of the outermost stringer on the south side of the bridge had its concrete missing, revealing the stringer using bolts instead of rivets, suggesting it was repaired. Perhaps it was damaged by a train that was too tall. Structurally however, the bridge shows signs of deterioration. Most visually evident is the spalling and other concrete damage. Delaminating has occurred on the abutments and underside of the deck. The railings exhibit signs of spalling. The other bridges of this type along this stretch of rail line have been slowly replaced by Chicago. While they do install balustrade railings on the new bridges, this action has resulted in the loss of the unique concrete encased built-up stringers, the primary noteworthy feature of the historic bridges. Given that this is the last vehicular bridge (there are also two extant pedestrian bridges) with integrity and original materials, it is recommended that the city of Chicago develop a restoration plan for this historic bridge rather than a replacement plan. The sooner a restoration plan is developed and executed, the more feasible and cost-effective the preservation of this historic bridge will be. Concrete is a difficult material to repair, and so it is better to address problems before they develop, and those which have already developed should be corrected before they become even worse and more difficult to correct. In terms of function, the structure should not be considered functionally obsolete, since the bridge is wide enough to accommodate two sidewalks, a bike lane, and two motor vehicle lanes. This also makes restoration seem a feasible solution for this bridge.
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.
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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