This bridge is an example of the oldest design of the trunnion bascule bridges that employ a pony truss design for the superstructure. As such, this bridge is similar to bridges like the Chicago Avenue Bridge. This bridge design was developed by the Chicago Bureau of Engineering and represents the transition from the lighter-weight and less streamlined designs toward the smoother and more massive designs seen bridge bridges like on Clark Street. It also represents the abandonment of the earliest bascule bridge design which was a through truss. For this reason, this bridge design is known as the "second generation" Chicago bascule bridge design. The bridge tender buildings for this particular bridge are unique and interesting, but are modified from the original design. Based on original plans for this bridge, the bridge today is missing decorative finials that were mounted on top of the trusses at various panel points.
Above: View showing the bridge in 2021
The substructure of this bridge had to be carefully designed to straddle a subway tunnel that existed under the bridge when it was built. The substructure contractor for the bridge was the FitzSimons and Connell Dredge and Dock Company of Chicago and the superstructure contractor was the Strobel Steel Construction Company of Chicago.
The first bridge at this location was an 1875 iron swing bridge built by the American Bridge Company of Chicago and was 157 feet long and 31.5 feet wide. This bridge was replaced in 1891 when the former Madison Street Bridge was moved to this location. At this time, Washington Boulevard was called Washington Street.
This bridge was completed and opened on May 26, 1913. It celebrates its 100th Anniversary in 2013, a significant achievement that deserves to be recognized. Despite its age, the bridge remains in decent structural condition and is more than sufficient for the traffic it carries today. Click here to view a commemoration article by ChicagoLoopBridges.com. (Alternate PDF Format)
This bridge is one of a number of bridges that the city of Chicago designed and built that resulted in a lawsuit by famous bridge engineer Joseph Strauss of the Strauss Bascule Bridge Company. The Washington Boulevard Bridge was specifically mentioned by Joseph Strauss in a presentation he gave where he discussed the similarities between his patent and the Chicago city design. The lawsuit centered around similarities in how the city supported its trunnions to the patented Strauss design. The diagram below, produced by Strauss, was intended to illustrate these similarities.
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This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Unorganized Photos
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