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Chicago River Bridges

Chicago River Bridges

Patrick T. McBriarty
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 344
  • Book Info
    Chicago River Bridges
    Book Description:

    Chicago River Bridges presents the untold history and development of Chicago's iconic bridges, from the first wood footbridge built by a tavern owner in 1832 to the fantastic marvels of steel, concrete, and machinery of today. It is the story of Chicago as seen through its bridges, for it has been the bridges that proved critical in connecting and reconnecting the people, industry, and neighborhoods of a city that is constantly remaking itself. In this book, author Patrick T. McBriarty shows how generations of Chicagoans built (and rebuilt) the thriving city trisected by the Chicago River and linked by its many crossings.The first comprehensive guidebook of these remarkable features of Chicago's urban landscape, Chicago River Bridges chronicles more than 175 bridges spanning 55 locations along the Main Channel, South Branch, and North Branch of the Chicago River. With new full-color photography of the existing bridges by Kevin Keeley and Laura Banick and more than one hundred black and white images of bridges past, the book unearths the rich history of Chicago's downtown bridges from the Michigan Avenue Bridge to the often forgotten bridges that once connected thoroughfares such as Rush, Erie, Taylor, and Polk Streets.Throughout, McBriarty delivers new research into the bridges' architectural designs, engineering innovations, and their impact on Chicagoans' daily lives. Describing the structure and mechanics of various kinds of moveable bridges (including vertical-lift, Scherer rolling lift, and Strauss heel trunnion mechanisms) in a manner that is accessible and still satisfying to the bridge aficionado, he explains how the dominance of the "Chicago-style" bascule drawbridge influenced the style and mechanics of bridges worldwide. Interspersed throughout are the human dramas that played out on and around the bridges, such as the floods of 1849 and 1992, the cattle crossing collapse of the Rush Street Bridge, or Vincent "The Schemer" Drucci's Michigan Avenue Bridge jump.A confluence of Chicago history, urban design, and engineering lore, Chicago River Bridges illustrates Chicago's significant contribution to drawbridge innovation and the city's emergence as the drawbridge capital of the world. It is perfect for any reader interested in learning more about the history and function of Chicago's many and varied bridges.The introduction won The Henry N. Barkhausen Award for original research in the field of Great Lakes maritime history sponsored by the Association for Great Lakes Maritime History.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09725-6
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History, Technology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-vii)
    (pp. viii-ix)
    (pp. x-1)
    (pp. 2-45)

    There is something magical about drawbridges. The simple idea of a moving bridge sparks the imagination. The paradox of a firm roadway pulling apart and opening conjures both danger and excitement. Using simple mechanics, moveable bridges draw our attention and incite a childlike fascination. In the long history of bridges, drawbridges are a relatively new and intriguing human invention.

    Natural bridges were formed and destroyed long before the existence of humankind. Shifting continents, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions reshaped the earth; wind and water carved and eroded the landscape. As life on earth flourished, a fallen tree across a stream allowed...

    (pp. 46-109)

    The Main Channel extends one and a half miles from the mouth of the Chicago River at Lake Michigan west to the forks, where it splits into the North and South branches. There has never been a fixed bridge across this section of the river, and federal oversight still requires moveable bridges on the Main Channel of the Chicago River.

    Originally, the normally slow current of the Main Channel flowed east into Lake Michigan. At Michigan Avenue, it turned south, meandering the last half mile through the lakefront sand dunes before reaching the lake at Monroe Street. The soldiers of...

    (pp. 110-211)

    The South Branch of the Chicago River stretches from the fork of the Main Channel south five miles and then splits into the South and West forks. Throughout Chicago’s first hundred years, the vast majority of commercial businesses, heavy industry, and urban population were centered on this section of the river. Situated between the Main Channel and South Ashland Avenue, the South Branch hosts nineteen highway bridges and two railroad bridges. This section of the river has been spanned only by two fixed bridges: the South Branch Bridge, built in 1833, and the Dan Ryan Expressway Bridge, opened in 1965....

    (pp. 212-293)

    The North Branch of the Chicago River stretches fifteen miles within the Chicago city limits. The five-and-a-half-mile portion from the forks up to Belmont Avenue is considered navigable and hosts seventeen bridges, which have been subject to federal oversight since 1890. The initial development of this portion of the city occurred slightly later than much of the rest of Chicago and tended toward residential, away from the river. Similar to the other branches, the North Branch was repeatedly widened, deepened, and straightened for shipping and industry.

    The most significant alteration was the addition of the North Branch Canal that created...

    (pp. 294-305)
  10. NOTES
    (pp. 306-311)
    (pp. 312-319)
    (pp. 320-323)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 324-330)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 331-332)