Howard Street crosses the Spokane River in an area where the river has been divided into three channels. Two of the three Howard Street Bridges are historically significant, this span and the middle channel span, which is a concrete arch bridge and presents a nice contrast and comparison to this bridge. The south channel span is also old, but a more mundane concrete slab or t-beam style structure.
As originally built, the three Howard Street Bridges had to carry pedestrians, vehicular traffic, and two sets of railway tracks in the middle that appear to have been for street cars. The railway portion did not last forever however, and eventually the entire center of the roadway was converted for vehicular traffic. In 1974, the bridges were closed to vehicular traffic for the Expo '74 Worlds Fair which was held near the bridges. The bridges never reopened for vehicular traffic afterward, and have continued to be used for non-motorized traffic only through to the present day.
This bridge is a traditional-looking concrete arch bridge. It includes a cantilevered sidewalk with heavy concrete balustrade railing featuring urn-shaped ballusters.
There is a bit of a mystery with this bridge. The bridge seen today is a closed spandrel arch bridge. However, Henry Grattan Tyrrell's History of Bridge Engineering describes a different bridge as follows: "A two span ribbed arch was also built by Mr. Strauss at Howard Street, Spokane, with six ribs and open spandrels. The plan shows brick paving between the car tracks and asphalt at the sides, on a floor slab supported by 12-inch cross walls about 10 feet apart through the central portion, and on spandrel columns and floor beams near the ends." This description and drawing which is shown below appears to be describing a short-lived venture that famous engineer Joseph Strauss made into the concrete bridge business before refining his work to steel and movable bridges. An example is discussed here. It is not known what the story is here. It is possible the bridge was altered some time after it was built perhaps widened and strengthened to accommodate the street car rail lines that for a time ran on Howard for example, or perhaps the Strauss bridge was short-lived and replaced. If that is the case however, than the 1909 construction date given in the National Bridge Inventory would be incorrect. The historical bridge construction photos that were located for this bridge were taken too early in the construction process to see what type of bridge was being built.
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