A Closer Look at Bronzeville’s New Pedestrian Connection
Nov28

A Closer Look at Bronzeville’s New Pedestrian Connection

Editor’s Note: Earlier this month we told you that CDOT opened a new suspension bridge linking Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood with the Lake Michigan shore. For a closer look a the project, we turn to Chicago Architecture’s resident bridge expert, Patrick McBriarty. You’ve probably seen him on TV or heard him on the radio lately, as there are few people who know more about the city’s bridges. The long...

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How Many 100-Year-Old Bridges Are There in Chicago?
Mar24

How Many 100-Year-Old Bridges Are There in Chicago?

Taking stock of my favorite topic – Chicago’s bridges – it is of particular note that this year four Chicago bridges will see their 100th anniversary.  Amazingly all four are still in use serving the Drawbridge Capital of the World. That is, Chicago. Jackson Boulevard Bridge opened on January 29, 1916 Chicago & North Western Railroad Bridge (near North Ashland Street) opened July 30, 1916 Webster Street Bridge opened August 3,...

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World’s First Chicago-Type Drawbridge Undergoing Repair in Bucktown
Sep08

World’s First Chicago-Type Drawbridge Undergoing Repair in Bucktown

The Cortland Street Bridge on Chicago’s north side crosses the Chicago River’s North Branch four miles above the mouth of the Chicago River at Lake Michigan. In 1982, the American Society of Civil Engineers recognized this bridge as an Engineering Landmark. It received Chicago Landmark status in 1991. To the frustration of area residents, this bridge has been closed to street traffic since June so the Chicago Department of...

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Will the Burgeoning South Loop Ever Get Its Two Missing Chicago River Bridges Back?
Jul27

Will the Burgeoning South Loop Ever Get Its Two Missing Chicago River Bridges Back?

  The South Branch of the Chicago River is marked by bridges at every street it meets from Lake all the way down to Harrison.  Ten bridges in all, and then suddenly — nothing.  Aerial images from Google and Apple Maps clearly show there used to be a bridge at the next junction, Polk Street, and two blocks down at Taylor Street.  But they no longer cross the South Branch of the Chicago River. Over the past couple decades, as the...

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What’s Going On With the Division Street Bridges?
May26

What’s Going On With the Division Street Bridges?

In July 2014, the Chicago Department of Transportation undertook an emergency $6 million project to replace the 111-year-old East Division Street Bridge. In June 2013, the biennial inspection determined the bridge was, in engineering terms, “structurally deficient.” It does not mean unsafe, rather, it means the bridge “requires significant maintenance and repair to remain in service and eventual rehabilitation or replacement to...

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Z6: Chicago’s Most Unique and Still Working Swing Bridge
Mar03

Z6: Chicago’s Most Unique and Still Working Swing Bridge

A relatively unknown but still active swing bridge crosses the North Branch of the Chicago River at a bend in the waterway roughly one block south of Cortland Street. Built in 1899 by the Chicago, Milwaukee and Saint Paul Railway (commonly referred to as the Milwaukee Road), this bobtail swing bridge is still active. Due to its very low river clearance, it is normally left in the open position so as not to impede barge and river...

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Randolph Street Bridge Turns 30
Dec19

Randolph Street Bridge Turns 30

Editor’s Note: The Randolph Street Bridge turns 30-years-old this week.  To mark the occasion, Chicago Architecture Blog bridge specialist Patrick McBriarty shared this excerpt from his book “Chicago River Bridges.”  You can learn more about his book and buy it here, in print or Kindle format.     The current Randolph Street Bridge is the newest drawbridge built in Chicago, which is now thirty-years old and...

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All About the Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge in Chinatown
Oct08

All About the Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge in Chinatown

Designed by engineers J.A.L. Wadell and John Harrington, this bridge near 19th and Stewart Streets is the second vertical-lift bridge ever built crossing the Chicago River, and only one still standing.  Near Chinatown over the South Branch of the river, this bridge was completed in 1915 for the Pennsylvania Railroad. The bridge is now owned by Amtrak and carries Metra and Norfolk Southern train traffic in and out of Chicago.  ...

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What it’s Like to Lead a Chicago Architecture Boat Tour
Sep11

What it’s Like to Lead a Chicago Architecture Boat Tour

Editor’s note: One of the best ways to see Chicago is on a river tour.  But have you ever wondered what it’s like to lead one of those tours?  Our own Patrick McBriarty got the chance this summer.  Here’s his report on what it’s like on the other side of the mic. Several months after the publication of my first book Chicago River Bridges I found myself talking with Michael Borgström the President of Wendella...

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Is Chicago About To Lose Its Title of The Drawbridge Capital Of The World?
May19

Is Chicago About To Lose Its Title of The Drawbridge Capital Of The World?

Chicago has many drawbridges; the most of any city in North America. And in classic Second City form, is surpassed only by Amsterdam as the city with the most drawbridges in the world. Chicago has the greatest variety of drawbridge designs of any city on earth. Chicago’s historic bridges embody significant engineering and cultural heritage. It is the world’s greatest working drawbridge museum. Yet, the last drawbridge to be...

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