This bridge was one of the longest bascule spans in the world when completed. Some sources claimed it was the longest in the world. Bascule bridges can be measured from a number of points. HistoricBridges.org has the Market Street Bridge in Chattanooga listed as a longer span length. All other bascule spans documented on HistoricBridges.org are shorter however. In other words, this bridge has a bascule span longer than any bascule bridge in Chicago, a city with multiple record-breaking bascule spans. The reason this bridge exceeds all the Chicago bridges is because it isn't as old as the record-breakers in Chicago.
The bridge has a very graceful arch-like shape. It is complimented by a visually pleasing bridge tender house. The bridge's machinery has been altered, but the superstructure retains good historic integrity. There are a series of deck plate girder approach spans at the ends of the bridge.
In addition to its technological significance as a long-span bascule, it is also historically significant as a significant product of Federal Depression-era relief programs.
Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory
The bridge carries 4 lanes of traffic and 2 sidewalks over the navigable Black River in Lorain. It was commemoratively named the Charles Berry Bridge in 1988 after a WWII hero from Lorain.
The 12 span, 1,053'-long bridge has a double-leaf bascule main span that measures 330' long. The approach spans are continuous haunched girder-floorbeam spans. The bascule spans are haunched Pratt deck trusses. There are 3-story, hip-roofed operators' houses at opposite corners of the bascule span. They are constructed of local sandstone.
In 1988 the bridge's deck, lift motors, drive system, operators consoles, and lighting systems were replaced.
Summary of Significance
The Erie Avenue Bridge was the longest-span bascule bridge in the world when it opened in 1939 according to several sources. It was designed by Wilbur Watson Associates and represents superb period aesthetics. The bridge was rehabilitated in 1989 with the operating systems replaced. While this has diminished its original fabric, it remains in operation and retains its historic appearance. The eligible recommendation of the prior inventory remains appropriate.
Once common in cities with navigable rivers off the lake like Cleveland, Toledo and Ashtabula, many vehicular examples have been replaced by high rise bridges. Five bascule bridges remain dating from 1920 through 1956. This example is complete, associated with a prominent bridge designer in the state and nation and is the aesthetically most significant example. It has high significance.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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