Grand Rapids has a beautiful downtown downtown area, with a developed area of skyscrapers and other downtown buildings along the impressive Grand River, Michigan's longest river. There are a number of historic bridges spanning this river in the downtown area, and they play a major role in forming the beauty and interest in the downtown area. The Fulton Street Bridge is one of those bridges. Its graceful arch spans provide a nice contrast to the intricate complexity of the nearby truss bridge also spanning the river. The bridges have lights on their superstructures to outline their distinctive shapes during the night.
This is the second longest concrete arch bridge in Michigan, with the Belle Isle Bridge being in first place. Here in Grand Rapids, this bridge is one of two downtown historic arch bridges, the other being Pearl Street Bridge. Both of them have experienced significant alterations that affected their historic integrity. Most notable is the railings, which are not original. The loss of the original railings on these bridge is most unfortunate. It would be nice at some point to see a restoration that would replace these modern railings with something that respects the original design of the bridge. The bridge is dedicated to William H. Dean, a citizen who was stationed in Cuba and according to the plaque gave his life in the research of yellow fever transmission.
With the Fulton Street Bridge the only other major alteration is the replacement of the spandrels. These appear to have been in-kind replacements however, and as such, the bridge still represents its original design effectively.
The previous bridge at this location was a beautifully ornate pin-connected through truss built in 1885 by the Massillon Bridge Company of Massillon, Ohio as shown in the below historical photo.
Information and Findings From Michigan Historic Bridge Inventory
This bridge was dedicated to William H. Dean, a citizen of Grand Rapids, on September 29, 1928. This five-span bridge is the second longest example of an open spandrel design known to survive in Michigan, with an overall length of 536 feet.
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