How You Can Get Up Close and Personal With Chicago’s Bridges

Dearborn Street Bridge - Chicago, Illinois - July, 2009 - 001a

Chicago is unusual in America for the number and variety of bridges that make up our street network.  The city’s bridges are (often) moving chunks of history frozen in steel, telling the story of the city’s development.

Over the last few months, you’ve probably noticed a series of articles published on this blog by Patrick McBriarty, who is among the top experts on Chicago bridges.  If you’re a bridge fan, too, you’ll be happy to know that Mr. McBriarty has teamed up with Wendella Cruises to offer Chicago River bridge tours.  Check out the press release below.

And if you’re more of a landlubber, Patrick will be at the Printer’s Row Lit Fest at the University of Illinois Press booth at 11:00am on Saturday.


Wendella Introduces the Chicago River Bridges Tour


Featuring Patrick McBriarty, author of the book Chicago River Bridges and co-producer of the documentary Chicago Drawbridges


Wendella and noted author Patrick McBriarty explore and celebrate Chicago’s diverse and world renowned Bridges with a 2-hour cruise starting this June. Used by tens of thousands of people every day, these engineering and architectural marvels are often overlooked and under appreciated. Long noted as the birth of the skyscraper, Chicago is also the birthplace of many modern drawbridge designs and home to more moveable bridges than anywhere in North America; second only to Amsterdam in the world.


Experience Chicago’s bridges from the first wood footbridge, built by a tavern owner in 1832, to the iconic steel and concrete structures of today. McBriarty guides patrons through the history of the bridges and the architecture and engineering of these mechanical marvels. In addition, Dr. Phyllis Kozlowski, Wendella’s Director of Tour Guides, will also be on hand to offer insights to the city itself and how it became the architectural mecca it is today.


The cruise is inspired by the history and photographic guidebook Chicago River Bridges by Patrick McBriarty, published by the University of Illinois Press (October 2013). Purchase tickets from Wendella online or call (312) 337-1446. Scheduled tour dates for 2014 are as follows:

  • Wednesday, June 25 at 5:45 pm – 7:45 pm
  • Sunday, July 20 at 9:00 am – 11:00 am
  • Thursday, August 28 at 5:45 pm – 7:45 pm
  • Sunday, September 14 at 9:00 am – 11:00 am
  • Saturday, October 19 at 9:00 am – 11:00 am

This tour is expected to sell out so get your tickets today, and learn more about Chicago’s fantastic bridges.


Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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