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Interpretive Digital Essay : Water in Chicago
Essay: People and the Port
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City of Bridges
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Essay: Using the Chicago River
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City of Bridges

Calumet River Bridges

Many different kinds of bridges have been built along the Calumet River since its development in the 1860s. As with the bridges along the Chicago River, land and water traffic both needed throughways. Most often, this has meant the design of movable bridges. Land traffic was halted when ships needed to clear the bridge area. One exception to this is the Chicago Skyway Bridge, built with a fixed span over the Calumet River, so that expressway traffic would not be stopped by passing ships.

Three Bridges at the Mouth of the Calumet River, 1973


The first bridge off Lake Michigan above the Calumet River was for many years a railroad swing bridge with a center pier, which impeded navigation. It was subsequently replaced by a vertical lift bridge for the U.S. Steel railroad, owned by U.S. Steel which operated just north of the mouth of the Calumet River until 1992. The second and third bridges, at Ewing (92nd) and 95th Streets were built by the City of Chicago in the 1950s. Both are bascule bridges that are raised when ships need to pass on the river.

See also: Calumet River; Bridges

Lift Railroad Bridges, 1991


Two center-span lift bridges can be seen in this view looking south from the 95th Street Bridge. Both are railroad bridges. The first is permanently open, while the second remains in heavy freight use.

See also: Railroads; Calumet Region

Chicago Skyway Bridge, 1985


In contrast to most of the bridges along the Calumet River, the Chicago Skyway Bridge is not movable. The bridge is seen here in the foreground, looking north up the Calumet River to the two railroad lift bridges. The Chicago Skyway is an expressway linking the Dan Ryan Expressway with the Indiana Toll Road. This 7 ½ -mile toll road was completed in 1958 by the City of Chicago to connect traffic from the north and east. The toll road includes a bridge that soars 125 feet over the Calumet River, making it possible for ships to pass underneath the roadway and for land traffic to flow over the river without interruption.

See also: Expressways; Transportation