Building a Bridge
Bridge building is an ongoing process in the Chicago region. Sometimes bridges deteriorate beyond repair or are destroyed in a disaster. They may simply be rebuilt, with few changes to their design. But engineers have been steadily improving bridge design over the course of the last two centuries. The introduction of iron and then steel to bridge construction radically changed design possibilities in the second half of the nineteenth century. In Chicago, engineers refined the trunnion bascule bridge in what has become known as the "Chicago Style." The replacement of older swing and rolling bridges with bascule bridges continued across the twentieth century. The rolling lift bridge at Dearborn Street was built to the latest design standards in 1907. In 1959, the rolling lift bridge was demolished to make way for a more reliable double leaf bascule bridge, which is still in use today.
In 1907, an older swing bridge was replaced with a rolling lift style bridge at Dearborn Street. This is a 1913 view of that bridge looking northwest. A swing bridge at Clark Street is also visible.
See also: Bridges
This 1918 photograph shows the approach to the Dearborn Street Bridge looking north across the Chicago River. Note both the horse-drawn wagons and the electric streetcars in use.
See also: Transportation
In 1959, the City of Chicago decided to replace the half-century old rolling lift bridge at Dearborn Street with the proven reliability of a bascule bridge. This November 1959 view of the demolition of the bridge looks eastward toward the Michigan Avenue Bridge.
Demolition of the rolling lift bridge over Dearborn Street included the elimination of this bridge tender control house, as well as the gearing and counterweights located below the gatehouse. This November 1959 view looks northwest across the Chicago River to the Central Cold Storage Building.
By April 1960, the old Dearborn Street Bridge had been demolished and new construction ready to begin. This view, looking northeast from Wacker Drive, shows the detour marked for vehicles and pedestrians. The sign on the construction bridge reads: “Another Bridge Improvement, Dearborn St. Bascule Bridge, City of Chicago, Richard J. Daley, Mayor.”
The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago © 2005 Chicago Historical Society.
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