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Clark Street Bridge

Clark Street Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: August 12, 2006, May 2009, and 2010-2013

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Clark Street Over Chicago River
Location
Chicago: Cook County, Illinois: United States
Structure Type
Metal Rivet-Connected Pratt Pony Truss, Movable: Double Leaf Bascule (Fixed Trunnion) and Approach Spans: Metal Stringer (Multi-Beam), Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1929 By Builder/Contractor: Ketler-Elliott Company of Chicago, Illinois and Engineer/Design: City of Chicago

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
1985
Main Span Length
245.4 Feet (74.8 Meters)
Structure Length
346 Feet (105.46 Meters)
Roadway Width
38.1 Feet (11.61 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s) and 3 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
16601027335

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

Clark Street Bridge

This bridge is quite similar to the nearby La Salle Street Bridge. It is somewhat similar to Franklin Street. However, this bridge shares the common trait with La Salle in that the taller ends of the bridges feature more round-shaped ends than Franklin Street. The Grand Avenue Bridge is an example of a bridge from the older "second generation" of bascule bridges that utilizes this same general design, but has a more clunky appearance with less curving of the top chord. The Clark Street Bridge has lost its original ornate railings, unlike the aforementioned Franklin Street and La Salle Street bridges. Clark, Franklin and La Salle Street Bridges are perhaps the three most aesthetically pleasing examples of the pony truss bascule bridge in Chicago. The unusual, eye-catching shape that the trusses form is made truly beautiful with the graceful curve of the top chord, and the bridge tender houses for these bridges are among the more ornate and well-preserved examples in Chicago.

Former Clark Street Bridge

Chicago did a wonderful job replicating the original railings on the Michigan Avenue Bridge, and HistoricBridges.org suggests that the Clark Street Bridge's railings should be replicated in the same way (albeit using the different railing style that was outlined for Clark Street), since aside from the loss of these railings, the bridge has excellent historic integrity and this already beautiful bridge would once again be truly stunning with the ornate railings back in place.

The Clark Street Bridge was built in 1929. The contractors for the bridge are listed on the plaque, and include Fitzsimons and Connell Dredge and Dock Company (who constructed the substructure), Ketler-Elliot Company (who constructed the superstructure), Norwood-Noonan Company (who installed electrical equipment) and M. J. Boyle and Company (whose role is not mentioned on the plaque, nor in the 1930 Annual Report of the Public Works Department).

Another plaque near the bridge reads "Project Completed 1931," suggesting that some part of the bridge or something near the bridge did not get done in 1929 and took a couple more years to finish.

Clark Street Bridge

The first documented bridge at this location was built in 1840 and was a floating bridge. It was destroyed in an icy flood in 1849. Floods were not the only problem encountered at this time. The city had been having trouble with bridge tenders as well as the general regulation of bridges. In April 1847, the city passed an ordinance prohibiting teams from stopping on or within 40 feet of a bridge. To address complaints about slow and inconsiderate bridge tenders, in 1852, bridge tenders were put under $500 bonds "for the faithful performance of their duties." By ordinance in January 13, 1854 bridge tenders were actually elevated to the status of "special policemen" and their bonds were increased to $2000. Bridge tenders were required to operate bridges as efficiently as possible.

The 1840 bridge was rebuilt in 1857 by Chapin and Company. It was again listed as rebuilt in 1866, but this time was listed as a iron and wood combination bridge, with Thomas Mackin as the contractor. The bridge later burned in the 1871 fire. It was replaced in 1872 by a wood and iron bridge built by Fox and Howard. In 1889, this bridge was moved to Webster Avenue, allowing for yet another Clark Street Bridge to be built in that same year, this time a steel swing bridge by the Variety Iron Works (presumably the bridge company based in Cleveland).

James SimpsonAlbert A. Sprague

Above: James Simpson was the Chair of the Chicago Plan Commission. Albert A. Sprague was the Vice-Chairman of the Chicago Plan Commission when construction of this bridge began, and became Commissioner of Public Works by the time this bridge was completed. Click on his photo to view an enlarged image that also includes a short biography.

Chicago RiverHistorical Photo

Main Plaque

N. CLARK ST. BRIDGE
CITY OF CHICAGO
1929

WM. HALE THOMPSON
MAYOR

RICHARD W. WOLFE
COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC WORKS
 
LORAN D. GAYTON
CITY ENGINEER

PAUL SCHIOLER
CITY BRIDGE ENGINEER

CLARENCE S. ROWE
ENGR. OF BRIDGE CONSTR.
MYRON B. REYNOLDS
ASSISTANT CITY ENGR.

THOMAS G. PIHLFELDT
ENGINEER OF BRIDGES

DONALD N. BECKER
ENGR. OF BRIDGE DESIGN

LEON KORDELL
RESIDENT ENGINEER

CHICAGO PLAN COMMISSION
 
JAMES SIMPSON, CHAIRMAN A. A. SPRAGUE, VICE-CHAIRMAN

HUGH E. YOUNG, CHIEF ENGINEER

CONTRACTORS

FITZSIMONS & CONNELL DREDGE & DOCK CO.

KETLER-ELLIOTT CO. NORWOOD-NOONAN CO.

M. J. BOYLE & CO.

Bridge Completion Plaque

PROJECT COMPLETED

1931

ANTON J. CERMAK
MAYOR

ALBERT A. SPRAGUE
COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC WORKS

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Historic Bridges of Chicago and Cook County

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Complete Bridge List

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.

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.

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Overview of Chicago Bascule Bridges (HAER Data Pages, PDF)

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.

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Clark Street Bridge

 
View Photo Gallery
Structure Overview
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Details
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Overview
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Details
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Video
Raising Bridge, Portal
Full Motion Video
Taken June 2011 Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
View Video
Lowering Bridge, Elevation
Full Motion Video
Taken June 2011 Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
View Video
Raising Bridge, Portal
Full Motion Video
Note: The downloadable high quality version of this video (available on the video page) is well worth the download since it offers excellent 1080 HD detail and is vastly more impressive than the compressed streaming video. Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
View Video
Lowering Bridge, Portal
Full Motion Video
Note: The downloadable high quality version of this video (available on the video page) is well worth the download since it offers excellent 1080 HD detail and is vastly more impressive than the compressed streaming video. Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
View Video
Raising Bridge, Elevation
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
View Video
Lowering Bridge, Portal
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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