Clark Street Bridge over the Chicago River


Clark Street Bridge over the Chicago River

    Revised 12/15/2017

      The current Clark Street Bridge ( 200 West; 307 North) runs North and South across the main channel of the Chicago River 1.2 miles west of the river mouth.  It is the eighth bridge at this site.  It was completed on July 10, 1929.    It was described as a metal river-connected Pratt Pony Truss, movable double leaf bascule (fixed trunnion) and approach spans , metal stringer (multibeam); fixed.   It consists of one main span and 3 approach spans.    The main span length is 245.4 feet. The structure length is 346 feet.  The deck width is 38 feet. The bridge deck is open grating.  There are four lanes of traffic.  There are two sidewalks.  There are two beaux arts style bridge tender houseses.  They have mansard tin roofs. The bridge was rehabbed in 1985.


Clark Street Bridge over the Chicago River

The following is a list of contractors:

Builder/Contractor Ketler–Elliot Company of Chicago.  Substructure Contractor FitzSimons and Connell Dredge and Dock Company.   Electric Contractor Norwood and Noonan Company.

The bridge was designed by Loran Gayton and city bridge engineer Paul Shioler.

Bridge cost was $1,529.492.77


Clark Street Bridge over Main Stem Chicago River 

      The discussions about building a bridge over the Chicago River were quite acrimonious lifting North and South sides.  Finally, a bridge was built in July, 1840.     It was a hand operated pontoon float swing bridge. It was constructed by William Ogden.  Cost was $3,000.00  It was destroyed in the flood  of 1849.

     A second more substantial pontoon float swing operated was constructed in July 3, 1849.  Like its predecessor, it was also hand operated. The bridge was 10 to 12 feet above the water.  The bridge was designed and come by John Censon.  Total cost was $2800.   The city contributed $1500 and the adjacent property holders contributed the balance.  In 1853, the bridge was destroyed in a collision with steamer London.  The destroyed bridge was repaired and relocated to Polk Street.
       The third bridge at Clark Street was built by July 4, 1854.    It was designed and built by Derastus Harper (City superintendent of Public works).  It was a pivot bridge with sidewalks and a double carriageway for north and southbound traffic.  It was 330 feet long and 30 feet wide.    It incorporated protection piers to protect the open bridge.  Throughout its history, it had structural problems.    On July 28, 1858 It split in two pieces. 

    The fourth bridge at this location was a Howe truss wood operated swing bridge.  It was designed and built by Chapin and Company in 1858. Construction cost was $14,200.

     It was one of the busiest bridges across the Chicago River.    It had to be replanked in 1859.  In January 1866, the City Superintendent reported that the bridge was rotten and unsafe for traffic.  It was removed on April 6, 1866. 

     The fifth bridge at this site opened on June 9, 1866.  It was the first wood and iron hand operated bridge in Chicago.  It incorporated an improved Howe Truss and a new turntable patented James K. Thompson.  

     It was 180 feet long and 32 feet wide.  It was designed by the Board of Public Works and James Thompson.  It was constructed by Thomas Makin.  Construction costs were $13,800.00.  The bridge was destroyed in the Chicago Fire of October, 1871.

     The sixth bridge at this location opened on January 9, 1872.  It was a Howe truss swing wood and iron bridge.  It was hand operated.  It was designed and constructed by Fox and Howard.  Construction cost was $32,000.00.  

     In 1889, the bridge was moved Webster Bridge.

     The seventh Clark Street Bridge opened in 1889.  This was a joint project with the city of Chicago and the North Chicago Street Railroad.  The railroad paid for the superstructure and ongoing maintenance.  The city paid for the substructure.  This was a steel Pratt truss steam powered swing bridge.  There was a street car and traffic land in each direction. 

    The bridge was designed by the North Chicago Street Railroad.  Superstructure Contractor was Variety Iron Works.  Substructure Contractor was FitzSimons and Connell.  Cost was $186,562.

     This was a busy bridge.  In 1897, the bridge was converted from steam to electric power.  In 1907, the roadway was repaved. In 1929, the bridge was severely damaged in a collision with the sand barge Sandmaster.   It was subsequently demolished.


Clark Street Bridge over the Chicago River

Bridge Inspection as of 11/2012

Deck Condition Rating  Fair 5 out of 9

Superstructure Condition Rating Fair 5 out of 9

Substructure Condition Rating Fair 5 out of 9

Appraisal Functionally Obsolete


Bridge Plaque Clark Street Bridge


Clark Street Bridge


Clark Street Bridge


Clark Street Bridge


Clark Street Bridge

The area near the Clark Street Bridge was the site of the Eastland Disaster.  On July 24, 1915,  this ship was docked at this site.  It was one of five boats scheduled to take Western Electric employees and their families on an excursion across the lake to Michigan City , Indiana.    The Eastland never left the Chicago River.  It rolled over with many of the passengers dumped into the water.    There were 884 fatalities.    There is a memorial plaque along the river walkway memorializing this historic event.


Plaque memorializing the Eastland Disaster


Clark Street Bridge


Clark Street Bridge


Under Surface Clark Street Bridge


Clark Street Bridge

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