This bridge is one of two similar swing bridges in Newark. The other is on Clay Street. They are similar both because they have a rare lattice truss configuration and also because their top chord has a genuine curve to it, as opposed to a polygonal design which is how a curve-like shape is normally achieved with a truss. These two unusual details were shared with two swing bridges (now demolished) over the Harlem River in nearby New York City, including the Willis Avenue Bridge. Aside from these four bridges, this design, which could be described as a European form, is essentially nonexistent in the United States. With the Harlem River Bridges gone, the two in Newark are thus exceedingly rare. Of the two in Newark, Clay Street is a little more interesting because it has the further detail where the top chord curves directly into the vertical end post. The Jackson Street Bridge does not have this detail. These days, Clay Street is also more significant since it lacks the alteration found with the Jackson Street Bridge.
The bridge seen today at Jackson Street has been reconstructed and therefore what is here today is in good condition and not likely to be demolished anytime soon. This is good news. However, the bridge seen today is severely altered and very little original bridge material remains. The only thing that is original in the superstructure are the truss lines and the railings. These truss lines themselves are so unusual that the bridge is still historically significant. However it is both sad and disappointing that this bridge was not rehabilitated in a more historically sensitive way. What has been altered on this bridge? First of all, this bridge originally had two lattice truss spans, one a swing span and the other fixed. The fixed span was demolished and replaced with an ugly steel stringer span. This along is very frustrating. At the very least, this lattice truss span should have been relocated and reused somewhere else, such as on a trail or in a park. The fixed span all by itself was rare and significant. Second, the entire bracing system of the swing span was removed and replaced. The new bracing does not replicate the original design and is composed of ugly modern rolled beams. The original bracing included struts with an attractive variable depth design and lattice. This change is hard to ignore when crossing the bridge since the plain beams do not harmonize with the historic trusses. Given all these alterations it is amazing that the original railings have survived on the sidewalks. These are an ornamental lattice design.
Given that New York City demolished its lattice trusses without a trace, it is hard to complain too much about the alteration of this bridge. At least the historic trusses have been allowed to remain. The bridge still looks very attractive as a result. However, it is greatly hoped that the Clay Street Bridge which is in need of rehabilitation will be rehabilitated in a manner that is respective to maintaining the original materials and designs of the historic bridge.
The Historic Bridge Inventory said that the Jackson Street Bridge was built by the McCann Fagan Iron Works. However searches did not reveal any companies with that name. There was a Fagan Iron Works and this is also what the Historic American Engineering Record referenced. it is not sure where the McCann part came from. It appears to be a typo or error.
Information and Findings From New Jersey's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The lattice thru truss swing span bridge is supported on a stone substructure. It has been significantly altered. In 1991 repairs to the span included strengthening the truss lower chord and diagonals, and replacing the drum girder, wheel assembly, and floor beams. Additionally, the entire operating mechanism was replaced. The only original feature of the span is the truss lines, but because they are rare examples of an uncommon type, the span remains technologically and historically noteworthy.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries a 2-lane collector road and sidewalks over a major river and a 2-lane one-way street in a industrial and commercial area dating from the early 1900s to the present.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
Original / Full Size Photos
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CarCam: Northbound Crossing
Full Motion Video
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