Dearborn Street Bridge over the Chicago River


Dearborn Street Bridge over the Chicago River

    Revised 12/9/2017

 The Dearborn Street Bridge (50 West; 307 North) runs North and South across the main channel of the Chicago River .85 mile from the river mouth.  It  has the distinction of being one of the youngest Chicago bridges.  It opened in October, 1963.   It was two years behind schedule for multiple reasons: 1) Constructions snags; 2) disagreements between the city and the contractors; 3) national steel workers strike; 4) Construction of adjacent Marina City.  It was rehabbed in 2006.

  The bridge description is a metal rivet-connected Pratt Railing Height Truss, movable; double leaf bascule (fixed trunnion; approach spans: metal stringer (multibeam) fixed.   The bridge is steel.  A unique feature is the presence of only one bridge keeper house.


Dearborn Street Bridge over the Chicago River

There is one main span and 4 approach spans.  The main span length is 235 feet.  The structure length is 341 feet.  Roadway width is 56 feet.


Dearborn Street Bridge over the Chicago River


Dearborn Street Bridge over the Chicago River


Dearborn Street Bridge


Dearborn Street Bridge   Clark Street Bridge seen in the distance

Contractors were as follows:

Builder/Contractor   Overland Construction Company of Chicago  (Bid $2,685,134)

Engineer/ Design City of Chicago

Substructure Contractor  States Improvement Company  ( Bid $1,162,050)

Electric Contractor  Garden City Engineering (Bid  $630,992)


Dearborn Street Bridge over the Chicago River

     This area was the site of multiple prior bridges.  The first bridge was built in 1834.   It was a movable bridge.  It was 300 feet long and 16 feet wide.  It was a yellow frame wood hand operated bascule design.  It was designed and constructed by Nelson Norton.  The city council voted to remove this bridge on July 8, 1839.  Irate citizens took matters into their and demolished the bridge.   A replacement bridge did not come for years.  In the interim, there was a ferry service at this site.

       The second bridge at this site was built in 1888.   It was an iron, hand operated  swing bridge.  The construction project involved floating Wells Street Bridge  superstructure  (built in 1872)  to Dearborn Street on scows.  This was then mounted on new center piers and foundations.   Bridge was designed by Fox and Howard.   They were also the  superstructure contractor.  Substructure contractor was FitzSimons and Connell.  Cost was $22,800.     At some point in time, the bridge was converted to steam power.  In 1897, it was converted from steam to electric.  In 1901, Chicago Union Traction replanked  the entire roadway.  There was a history of multiple collisions involving the bridge.   The bridge was removed In 1907.

 In 1907, a Scherzer rolling lift bascule bridge was built at this site.   The bridge was constructed by the Sanitary District.  Superstructure Contractor was George Jackson, Inc.   Substructure Contractor was Great paLaces Dredge and Dock Company.  Cost was $316,067.72.   This bridge was removed in 1959


Dearborn Street Bridge

Bridge Inspection as of 12/2010

Deck Condition Rating     Satisfactory   6 out of 9

Superstructure Condition Rating  Fair 5 out of 9

Substructure Condition Rating Satisfactory  6 out of 9

Appraisal  Functionally Obsolete



Dearborn Street Bridge


Dearborn Street Bridge


Under surface Dearborn Street Bridge 

Dearborn Street Bridge Plaque

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