Note: This modern bridge is not historic. This page is provided for reasons of comparison and continuity of downtown Chicago listings only.
This bridge was built in 1984. HistoricBridges.org has a strict policy to not include any bridge newer than 1970, however a rare exception was made with two bridges in the downtown Loop area of Chicago so that those planning a tour of the Loop bridges can get information on all Loop bridges from HistoricBridges.org and also not be confused by gaps in the tour.
Including this non-historic bridge on HistoricBridges.org is also an opportunity to make a comparison to the historic bridges. There is a stark difference between even the younger 1960s bascule bridges in Chicago and this non-historic bridge. The extremely simplistic superstructure of the bridge as well as a lack of adornment on bridgetender buildings makes the modern bridges rather plain and non-descript compared to the intricate beauty of the historic bascule bridges in Chicago. This is a trend seen in all bridges nationwide. Beauty and aesthetics are rarely given genuine attention in modern bridge construction. This is why the preservation of historic bridges is essential, since beyond the heritage value of the bridges, historic bridges are so much more beautiful.
The first documented bridge over the South Branch Chicago was built just north of Randolph Street in 1833. It was a floating bridge built with rough logs for $486.20. In 1849, the a new bridge was built. In 1864, the bridge was again rebuilt with superstructure contractor being L. B. Boomer. In 1874, the Keystone Bridge Company built a steam-powered iron swing bridge at the location. The bridge that preceded the existing bridge was a rolling lift bascule bridge built in 1903 with the American Bridge Company as superstructure contractor.
The Chicago Department of Transportation's Michelle Woods was kind enough to arrange a few moments out of her very busy schedule to give HistoricBridges.org a brief tour of the Lake Street Bridge's bridge tender house control room and machinery basement, following a similar tour provided to a school group. In addition, for comparison, a brief visit to the control room of the nearby modern Randolph Street Bridge provided a comparison to how the control rooms have changed from the era of the historic bridges to the modern bridges. The tour of the control room is available as one of the photo galleries for the Randolph Street Bridge. Here in the Randolph Street Bridge, the few levers and pedals that control the bridge have been replaced by a single all-in-one control panel with push buttons used to control the movement of the bridge.
Main PlaqueRANDOLPH STREET BRIDGE
CITY OF CHICAGO
JEROME R. BUTLER
COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC WORKS
CHIEF CONSTRUCTION ENGINEER
ASST. CHIEF ENGINEER
ACT'G CHIEF BRIDGE ENGINEER
ROBERT W. SOLDAN
DESIGNED BY: CITY OF CHICAGO, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
CONSULTANT: HAZELET & ERDAL, CONSULTING ENGINEERS
CONTRACTOR: KENNY CONSTRUCTION COMPANY
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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
|A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer|
Mobile Optimized Photos
|A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer|
Bridge Tender House Control Room
Original / Full Size Photos
|A virtual tour of the bridge tender house control room, where the controls that operate the bridge are located. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer|
Bridge Tender House Control Room
Mobile Optimized Photos
|A virtual tour of the bridge tender house control room, where the controls that operate the bridge are located. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer|
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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