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Cherry Avenue Bridge

Bridge Number Z-2

   
                  


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Cherry Avenue Bridge
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Bridge Documented: August 12, 2006, September 12, 2011, and April-August 2013
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Key Facts
Bridge Name Facility Carried / Feature Intersected Location Structure Type Construction Date and Builder/Engineer
Cherry Avenue Bridge
Bridge Number Z-2
Railroad (Baltimore and Ohio Chicago Terminal Railroad) and Non-Motorized Walkway Over North Branch Chicago River Chicago: Cook County, Illinois Metal Pin-Connected Pratt Through Truss, Movable: Swing (Bobtail) 1902 By Builder/Contractor: Wisconsin Bridge and Iron Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Technical Facts
Rehabilitation Date Main Span Length Structure Length Main Spans
2009 120 Feet (36.6 Meters) 230 Feet (70.1 Meters) 1

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Drawings, PDF - HAER Data Pages, HTM - HAER Data Pages, PDF

View A Historical Article Discussing This Bridge

Cherry Avenue Bridge

Previous Cherry Avenue BridgeWisconsin Bridge and Iron Company AdvertisementThe bridge is a rare asymmetrical "bobtail" type of swing bridge. The pier is on the north side, and a concrete counterweight overhead at that end balances the structure out. This bridge was one of the first movable bridges to use concrete as a counterweight. The bridge was important to the development of Goose Island, since it was the only railroad connection to the island. The bridge was designed and operated by the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad. In its later years, the bridge would become the property of Canadian Pacific Railroad. The bridge was then bought by the Chicago Terminal Railroad, who continued to run a train across the bridge on Tuesdays and Thursdays and other days as needed. The bridge is pin connected and carries a single set of tracks. Given its rare design, it is among the most significant of Chicago's vast collection of historic bridges.

In 2009, this bridge remained in use by a very infrequent number of trains whose only purpose was to provide a connection to railroad mainlines elsewhere. As such, the potential existed to make this extremely important historic bridge both accessible and functional for the general public. As a result, a unique project was developed to restore this bridge and adapt it to support non-motorized traffic while also maintaining the ability for the bridge to carry those rare trains. Because the trains are infrequent on the bridge and not operated with the speed and right-of-way seen on a typical railroad line, the deck was designed so that non-motorized traffic is able to use the entire bridge deck freely and without restraint. The deck was specially designed so that the rails are flush with the deck and pedestrians and bicyclists do not trip on the rails, and even the small gap around the rails that is often seen with railroad grade crossings is eliminated in the design. The restoration of the bridge was beautifully conducted. The concrete counterweight was patched and repaired. The entire truss was cleaned and repainted, including the significant swing rollers and gear under the bridge that convey this bridge's movable past. One good aspect of the restoration that might be overlooked is the railings. First, the railings placed on the bridge are not gaudy and they do not distract from the historic bridge itself. More importantly, the railings were placed outside of the truss lines, rather than inside as is often done with railroad bridges. By placing these railings outside of the truss lines, pedestrians on the bridge enjoy an unfettered view of the bridge's truss members, and can even walk up and touch them. This allows visitors to experience the historic bridge in a way that is not possible on many railroad truss bridges that are converted for pedestrian use. This method of railing placement may not be appropriate for all bridges, but here it is a distinctly positive aspect of the restoration.

Cherry Avenue Bridge ConstructionInterpretive signage was installed near the bridge as part of the project, conveying the significance of the bridge to visitors.

Overall, this bridge is an excellent example of how creativity can bring new life, function, and value to historic bridges. It is an example of the type of commitment to preserving historic bridges that Chicago has shown in the past with a number of its historic bridges, and hopefully it is a sign that this commitment is continuing.

As of 2013, the Chicago Water Taxi has installed a dock at the southwest quadrant of this bridge on Goose Island. They are operating service between Madison Street and here at the bridge and it is a great way to see this bridge while passing under a number of historic North Branch bridges on the way.

Information and Findings From Chicago Landmarks Designation

General Information

Address: North Cherry St., immediately South of North Ave. (North Branch of Chicago River)
Year Built: 1901 - 1902
Architect: Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: December 12, 2007

The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Bridge No. Z-2 is a rare asymmetrical "bobtail" swing span bridge from the late 19th century. Its significance lies not only in its design, but in the role it played in the historic development of Goose Island, carrying the only rail line to the island. In addition, the bridge once carried limited vehicular traffic, making it perhaps the only surviving bridge in Chicago that served combined modes of transportation. The bridge's superstructure is made from 210 tons of steel, with a concrete counterweight weighing 140 tons all of which rest on a circular nest of 40 wheels that support the entire weight of the bridge. When in operation an electric motor engaged the gear mechanism, forcing the span to rotate and swing towards the shoreline. The bridge owes the necessity of its existence to a canal built by William Ogden, Chicago's first mayor, who was the primary backer for its construction in the mid-1850s. The canal allowed the island to function as an industrial core for Chicago, with tanneries, grain elevators, a coal yard and steel mill. Today the bridge's operating mechanism has been disabled and since larger craft no longer use the waterway, the bridge remains locked in position. In 2009, the bridge was restored by the Chicago Department of Transportation and pedestrian and bike paths were installed on the span to connect North Avenue to Goose Island.

This Bridge Is A Designated Chicago Landmark

Visit The Chicago Landmarks Website

Chicago Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway Advertisement

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Chicago and Cook County are home to one of the largest collections of historic bridges in the country, and no other city in the world has more movable bridges. HistoricBridges.org is proud to offer the most extensive coverage of historic Chicago bridges on the Internet.

Chicago / Cook County Bridge News

Summer 2014 - The Division Street Canal Bridge, one of the oldest, most unique, and historically significant bascule bridges will be demolished! However, the bridge can be saved if someone proposes to relocate and preserve the bridge elsewhere.

May 28th, 2014 - State Street Bridge - This bridge celebrates its 65th Anniversary! Click Here To View A Commemoration Article By ChicagoLoopBridges.com!

July 29, 2013 - A project study has been initiated for the reconstruction of historic North Lake Shore Drive. This project puts a large number of historic bridges at risk for demolition and replacement. However, it could also be an opportunity to rehabilitate the bridges. Visit the project website.

May 15, 2013 - The Ashland Avenue Bridge over North Branch Chicago River has been recommended for Chicago Landmark designation by the Chicago Art Deco Society.

April 30, 2013 - Illinois Landmarks has included Chicago's Bascule Bridges as one of their Top 10 Most Endangered Historic Places. View The Official Page.

General Chicago / Cook County Bridge Resources

Chicago's Bridges - By Nathan Holth, author of HistoricBridges.org, this book provides a discussion of the history of Chicago's movable bridges, and includes a virtual tour discussing all movable bridges remaining in Chicago today. The book includes dozens of full color photos. Only $9.95 U.S! ($11.95 Canadian). Order Now Direct From The Publisher!

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Overview of Chicago Bascule Bridges (HAER Data Pages, PDF)

Chicago Loop Bridges - Chicago Loop Bridges is another website on the Internet that is a great companion to the HistoricBridges.org coverage of the 18 movable bridges within the Chicago Loop. This website includes additional information such as connections to popular culture, overview discussions and essays about Chicago's movable bridges, additional videos, and current news and events relating to the bridges.

Additional Online Articles and Resources - This page is a large gathering of interesting articles and resources that HistoricBridges.org has uncovered during research, but which were not specific to a particular bridge listing.

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Photos and Videos: Cherry Avenue Bridge

Available Photo Galleries and Videos

Click on a thumbnail or gallery name below to visit that particular photo gallery. If videos are available, click on a video name to view and/or download that particular video.

 
View Photo Gallery Structure Overview
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
View Photo Gallery Structure Details
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
View Photo Gallery Structure Overview
Mobile Optimized Gallery
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
Browse Gallery With Popup Viewer
View Photo Gallery Structure Details
Mobile Optimized Gallery
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
Browse Gallery With Popup Viewer
View Photo Gallery 2006 Bridge Photo-Documentation
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos from before the bridge restoration. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
View Photo Gallery 2006 Bridge Photo-Documentation
Mobile Optimized Gallery
A collection of overview and detail photos from before the bridge restoration. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
Browse Gallery With Popup Viewer
View Video
Train Crossing Bridge
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.

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