|Bridge Name||Facility Carried / Feature Intersected||Location||Structure Type||Construction Date and Builder/Engineer|
Webster Avenue Bridge
||Webster Avenue Over North Branch Chicago River||Chicago: Cook County, Illinois||Metal Rivet-Connected Pratt Pony Truss, Movable: Bascule (Fixed Trunnion) and Approach Spans: Metal Stringer (Multi-Beam), Fixed||1916 By Builder/Contractor: Ketler-Elliott Company of Chicago, Illinois and Engineer/Design: City of Chicago|
|Rehabilitation Date||Main Span Length||Structure Length||Roadway Width||Main Spans||Approach Spans||NBI Number|
|1993||189 Feet (57.6 Meters)||287 Feet (87.5 Meters)||36 Feet (11 Meters)||1||4||16605726648|
The Webster Avenue Bridge is an example of the oldest style of pony bascule bridge in Chicago. It displays the less smooth curve to its trusses. Neighboring Ashland Avenue Bridge, with its second generation design featuring smooth truss curves is a good contrast.
This bridge is a member of the greatest collection of historic bascule bridges on the planet, which is located in the city Chicago and Cook County. The fact that Chicago is a city with such a large, record-breaking number of bascule bridges, and most of them considered historic, is something the city should be truly proud of. For the most part, Chicago has been a model for historic bridge preservation, especially with the bridges in the downtown area. They have chosen to maintain, and rehabilitate as needed, their historic bridges for the continuous heavy traffic one might expect in the nation's third largest city. The fact that so many of these bridges remain functional and historically intact as well sends a message to other cities and even rural locations who claim that historic bridges cannot serve the needs of modern day traffic.
A historical thesis paper written about tests students did on the bridge includes a photo where a C. H. Norwood plaque is visible on the electrical equipment indicating that this firm was the electrical contractor for the bridge. Also shown in this paper are photos showing the original bridge tender houses, which have since been severely altered. The superstructure contractor for the bridge was Ketler-Elliott Company of Chicago, Illinois and the substructure contractor was Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company of Chicago, Illinois.
The previous bridge at this location was a wooden through truss swing bridge. The design appears to have been similar to some of the other long-gone bridges on this section of the river.
While Chicago is a leader in historic bridge preservation downtown, how do the city's historic bridges fare out away from the core of the city? Their conditions vary widely, some remain in excellent condition, while others show need of rehabilitation. How does the city's commitment to preservation stand outside of the downtown? This remains to be seen for certain, with initial evidence pointing in both directions. Certainly, nearby Cortland Street Bridge displays a commitment to preservation, having been continuously maintained and preserved the past few years. However, it is worth noting that Ashland Avenue Bridge was not always the northernmost historic movable highway bridge in Chicago. Nearby Damen Avenue Bridge to the north was demolished and replaced with a modern through arch that, while more attractive than a normal modern bridge, does not convey Chicago's movable bridge or industrial heritage, and does not blend into the context of Chicago bridges or the canalized river in which they cross. It is impossible to make a connection to Chicago's past, or the canal's past with this new bridge.
Many of the movable bridges on the North Branch and South Branch (Sanitary Canal) of Chicago River are unlike those on the main branch and downtown Chicago. In addition, some of the oldest and most historic bascule bridges are on the North Branch. It is essential that these outlying bridges be preserved alongside the core downtown movable bridges. Moving forward, if Chicago wishes to maintain its image as the worldwide capital of bascule bridges, and if it also wishes to maintain its image as one of this nation's great Historic Bridge Cities alongside cities like Pittsburgh, a long-term preservation plan for its remaining historic bascule bridges should be put in place, especially for these bridges that sit outside of the downtown loop.
Historic Bridges of Chicago and Cook CountyBrowse Bridges In Google Maps
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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
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.
April, 2013 - The replacement of the outer trusses of the northern Wells Street Bridge bascule leaf is underway. The outer trusses of the southern bascule leaf has already been completed.
April 2013 - Spring Bridge Lifts Are Ongoing! The bridge lift schedule is available here.
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!
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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