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Franklin Street Bridge

Franklin-Orleans Bridge

Franklin Street Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: August 12, 2006, 2009-2013

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Franklin Street (Orleans 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
1920 By Builder/Contractor: Ketler-Elliott Company of Chicago, Illinois and Engineer/Design: City of Chicago

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
2002
Main Span Length
252 Feet (77 Meters)
Structure Length
320 Feet (98 Meters)
Roadway Width
38 Feet (11.58 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s) and 5 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
16602027330

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
View Information About HSR Ratings

Bridge Documentation

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

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Data Pages, PDF

Franklin Street Bridge

Franklin Street Bridge Raised

The last bridge to cross the Chicago River before it splits into the north and south branches, this bridge crosses the river at an angle, connecting Franklin and Orleans Streets, and lies in the shadow of the massive Merchandise Mart building which inescapably defines the visual setting around the bridge.

This trunnion bascule bridge, which features a pony truss superstructure was built in 1920. The contractor for the substructure of the bridge was the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company. The superstructure contractor was the Ketler-Elliott Company, although "Elliott" is actually spelled with only one "t" (Elliot) as is the case on a couple bridges. The original electrical equipment was installed by C.H. Norwood. The bridge is 62 feet wide, and has a 220 foot clear span with a 251.8 foot trunnion-to-trunnion span. There is 18.7 feet of navigational vertical clearance listed for the bridge.

This bridge is similar to the nearby Clark and La Salle Street Bridges, although the trusses are not quite as high, and not as fully rounded at the ends as Clark and LaSalle. For comparison, the Grand Avenue Bridge is an example of the earlier pony truss design that eventually evolved into the design seen with bridges like the Franklin Street Bridge. The unusual shape of these bridges comes from the fact that each leaf of this double-leaf bascule bridge is essentially cantilevered out from the abutments, meaning that the each end of the bridge is supporting its half of the bridge out to the center independently of the other half of the bridge.

Franklin Street Bridge

Franklin Street Bridge retains the beautiful original railing design which includes flowers set into the panels. These railings are among the most beautiful to be found in Chicago.

When the original railings, ornate bridgetender buildings, and gracefully curved pony trusses are taken into account it is quite easy to argue that the Franklin Street Bridge is among the most beautiful of Chicago's bridges.

The Franklin Street Bridge was featured prominently in an advertisement by the Strauss Bascule Bridge Company of Chicago as seen above, right. Ironically however, the company was not involved with the Franklin Street Bridge in any direct manner. However, the company's founder Joseph Strauss successfully sued the City of Chicago because the trunnion girder design that the city used was found to infringe upon a bascule bridge patent that Joseph Strauss had. Because the court upheld Strauss's lawsuit, Strauss was able to produce this advertisement saying that Chicago's bridges used the "Strauss patented support for the trunnions" even though the city never had any contact with Strauss or his company in the process of building the bridge.

Franklin Street Bridge

Above: A photo taken as construction was nearly complete on the bridge.

Franklin Street Bridge Deck

Above: A photo showing a project in 1953 to replace the bridge deck.

Charles H. Wacker

Above: Charles H. Wacker, after whom Wacker Drive is named, was a Chair of the Chicago Plan Commission when the Franklin Street Bridge was built.

John Ericson Chicago City Engineer

 

Main Plaque

WM. HALE THOMPSON
MAYOR

CHAS. R. FRANCIS
COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC WORKS

JOHN ERICSON
CITY ENGINEER
WM. BURKHARDT
DEPUTY COMM. OF PUBLIC WORKS

THOMAS G. PIHLFELDT
ENGINEER OF BRIDGES

HUGH E. YOUNG     ENGINEER OF BRIDGE DESIGN

CHICAGO PLAN COMMISSION

E. H. BENNETT     CONSULTING ARCHITECT

CHICAGO CHAPT. OF AMER. INST. OF ARCH'TS. - CHICAGO ART COMM.

CONSTRUCTION

CLARENCE S. ROWE
ENGINEER OF BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION

SUBSTRUCTURE
GREAT LAKES DREDGE & DOCK CO.
CARL O. JOHNSON
RESIDENT ENGINEER

SUPERSTRUCTURE
THE KETLER-ELLIOT CO.

ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT BY C. H. NORWOOD

1920

Bridge Association Plaque

BY AUTHORITY OF THE CITY COUNCIL THIS TABLET IS
ERECTED BY THE FRANKLIN-ORLEANS BRIDGE ASSOCIATION
IN APPRECIATION OF THE SERVICE OF THOSE OFFICIALS
AND CITIZENS WHO COOPERATION BROUGHT ABOUT THE
CONSTRUCTION OF THIS BRIDGE.

JAMES H. CHANNON, PRES.

EDWARD MOHR, VICE PRES.

JOSEPH E. FLANAGAN

GEORGE R. DUNCAN

HAMPDEN WINSTON, TREAS.

JAMES F. BURNS, COUNCEL

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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: Franklin 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, View Beside
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, View Beside
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 Leaf, Oblique
Full Motion Video
Taken June 2011 Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.

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Maps and Links: Franklin Street Bridge

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