Lake Street Bridge over the South Branch of the Chicago River


Lake Street Bridge Plaque


Lake Street Bridge Plaque

        Revised and completed 12/28/2017

     The current Lake Street Bridge is the fifth bridge at this location.  The bridge (356 West; 200 North) crosses the South Branch of the Chicago River 1.6 miles from the river mouth. This is a double deck bridge.  This was the first double deck bascule bridge in the world. It carries auto traffic on its street level.  On its upper level, it carries elevated line rapid transit traffic–Green and Pink Lines.  It opened on November 6, 1916.    It was rehabbed in 1995.  The bridge description:  metal rivet-connected Warren through truss, movable; double leaf bascule (fixed trunnion).  Approach spans: metal stringer multiple beams fixed.  There is one main span and 4 approach spans.   Largest span 245 feet.  Total length 332.9 feet.  Deck width is 16 feet.

     Superstructure contractor is Kettler and Elliot Erection Company of Chicago.  Substructure contractor was FitzSimons and Connell Company.  Design City Engineers. John Ericson, Thomas Pihlfeldt, Alexander von Babo, Hugh Young.  Architect Edward Benett.  Construction Costs were $610,000.

     There were major rehabs in 1959 and 1969



Lake Street Bridge Tender House


Lake Street 

   The first crossing at Lake Street was a ferry.

     The first bridge built at this site opened in 1852.  It was a pivot wood hand operated bridge.  It was the first center pier pivot bridge built in Chicago.  It was designed and built by Street Superintendent Derasmus Harper.  In 1857, $1700 was spent in repairs.  In the same year, it was involved in a crash with the Steamer Foster.  The bridge was removed in 1859.

     The second bridge at Lake Street opened on July 2, 1859.  The bridge was a 185 foot swing wood hand operated resting on a pile center pier and stone abutments.  It was designed and built by Newton Chapin.  On July 7, 1859, the bridge was involved in a collision.  It was removed in 1867.

     The third bridge at this site opened in 1867.  The Substructure of the second bridge was refurbished.  A new bridge superstructure was built in 1867.  The new bridge was a Howe truss 33 feet wide. It was a swing wood and iron hand operated. It was designed and built Fox and Howard.  Construction costs were $11,450.  It was removed in 1885.


Franklin Street Bridge over the Chicago River

     4th Lake Street Bridge

     In 1885, the West Division Railway Company offered to pay one half the costs of the new bridge.  In return, the company was allowed to use the bridge for its tracks.

     The new  fourth bridge opened in June, 1886.  It was a Pratt truss iron swing bridge powered by steam initially later converted to electric power. It was 220 feet long and 59 feet wide.  It has two roadways each 21 feet wide. Each carried street cars.  There were two 8 and one half feet sidewalks.  The bridge was designed and built by the Detroit Bridge Company.  Substructure Contractor was FitzSimmons and Connell Company.  Construction costs were $127,259.

     Later, the Lake Street Elevated Railroad paid to reinforce the bridge and added an upper deck to carry The elevated lines.

     Bridge was removed February–November 1916.


Lake Street Bridge over south branch Chicago River


Randolph Street Bridge from the Lake Street Bridge


Franklin Street Bridge over the Chicago River as seen from the Lake Street Bridge


Randolph Street Bridge over the south branch of the  Chicago River as seen from the Lake Street Bridge


Lake Street Bridge


Lake Street Bridge


Lake Street Bridge and Randolph Street Bridge


Bridge Tender House


Lake Street Bridge


Under Surface Lake Street Bridge

Bridge evaluation as of 10/2011

Deck Condition Condition Rating  Good 7 out of 9

Superstructure Condition  Rating  Poor 4 out of  9

Substructure Condition Rating  Fair 5 out of 9

Overall appraisal Structurally Deficient


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s