Monday, November 30, 2009

Monroe Street Bridge

Built: 1919
Thomas Pihlfeldt, engineer
Clarence Rowe, engineer
Hugh E. Young, engineer

This bridge was one of three paid for by Union Station in exchange for approval of the Union Terminal Ordinance of 1914. Quid pro quo. Behind and to the left is the “old” Chicago Mercantile Exchange Building (1987). The 40,000 sq.ft. trading floor has now been cut up for new offices.  The design closely adheres to the City Beautiful principles- high quality materials with a decidedly classical bent. It's easy to think of these bridge houses as tiny monuments.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dearborn Street Bridge, detail

Sometimes to really appreciate a bridge you've got to get underneath it. Swimming in the Chicago River is not recommended, but I do recommend the water taxis. For a mere $2 you can hop on a boat at Madison and take it to Navy Pier, Michigan Avenue, or Chinatown. You might pay $25 for an architectural river tour, but for far less you can sit next to a crazy local who mumbles angrily about politics and points out the failures of the new Trump Tower.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Franklin-Orleans Bridge

Built: 1920
Thomas Pihlfeldt, engineer
Clarence Rowe, engineer
Hugh Young, engineer

This bridge is just east of the confluence of the 3 branches of the Chicago River, known as Wolf Point. Back in the 1830s this was the place to be, where you could find taverns, hotels and more taverns. Nowadays it looks kind of crummy. The Sun Times building is in the background, which is one of the more aggressively awful looking buildings in Chicago.  Completion of this bridge was delayed in part by WWI.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Clark Street Bridge

Built: 1929
Paul Schioler, engineer

This is a view looking south across the river towards the Loop. In the background to the right you can see a half-built hotel which has basically been abandoned since the developer went bankrupt. Strange thing to see in the center of Chicago.

If anyone cares, all the bridges around the loop are double-leaf Bascule bridges. It's fun to say that fast.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Madison Street Bridge

Built: 1923
Thomas Pihlfeldt, engineer
Clarence Rowe, engineer
(rehabbed, 1994)

This may be the busiest bridge downtown, since both Union Station and Ogilvie Station let out onto Madison west of the Chicago River. The bridge houses are almost identical to Wells but the real difference is the bridge structure. What it loses in drama it makes up in unobstructed views to the north and south.

You wouldn't think the narrow sidewalks would accommodate a guy drumming on big plastic buckets every day during rush hour, but you'd be wrong.