Chicago River Bridges
Chicago Tribune, October 2, 1891
Pedestrians Can Cross the Bridge
The Madison Street Bridge will be finished tomorrow according to the statement of W. A. Leonard, the contractor. “My work will be completed Saturday,” he said, “but the contractor who is building the east approach is not through, so that it will be some days before the teams can cross. Foot passengers have been crossing all day and can do so from this time on. The bridge will cost the city $85,000, and it is the only rim-bearing bridge in Chicago. In case the engine fails one man can turn it easily. It weighs 1,600,000 pounds.” Gen. Fitz-Simmons, who has the contract for building the east approach, said the work will be finished in ten days if the weather was favorable.
The Inter Ocean, October 20, 1891
The Madison Street bridge was opened for traffic at precisely 8:25 o’clock yesterday morning by City Engineer Clarke’s watch. and from that moment until dark, wagons, carriages, and pedestrians streamed back and forth across the structure in unending processions in celebration of its completion.
The happy event wouldn’t have taken place for a week or two if City Engineer Clarke had not, on the authority of Commissioner Aldermen, taken possession of the bridge Friday and finished the work.
“It was practically,” he said, “taking forcible possession of the bridge. The foremen did not object, however, and no force was necessary. The only thing to be done was to adjust the bearings of the rollers so that the springs would turn all right, but the contractors’ workmen tooled away two weeks at it and were likely to waste two weeks longer.”
It is possible that the contractors will have to pay for their delay. The contract provided for a penalty of $50 a day for every day after Feb. 1, 1890, that the bridge was not completed, but the contractors could not begin work work at the time specified by the contract because the West Chicago Street Railway Company had not completed the repairs to the Washington street tunnel so that the old bridge could be moved. Whether, because of the city’s failure to turn over the street at the time specified, the contractors could take all the time they seemed willing suffering a penalty is a question City Engineer Clarke and Counsel Miller will get together to discuss at the earliest opportunity.
Madison Street Bridge No. 5
Fifth Madison Street Bridge in October 1921
Chicago Tribune, June 4, 1922
The Madison street bridge continues as a heroic monument of the agony of incompetence, the triumph of demos, shapeless, useless, and reaching steel arms into the heavens as if it were going down a third time and forever in the current of the river. It is a mass of twisted, distorted, and convulsed, inchoate, but with a glimpse of some design thwarted before it could take form. Great as the waste of money is, it is not so great a waste as that of these disordered thoroughfares. The citizen may be as mad as he cares to be, but he needs the bridges and if he has to pay twice for them let him know in such fashion his affairs are run.
Chicago Tribune, August 18, 1922
Final efforts by the city to complete the new Madison Street bridge are now under way. The bridge, a double leaf trunnion bascule structure, has been in process of completion since 1920. Unless there are more delays the new bridge will be ready for use from sixty to ninety days. The photo shows the old bridge, which is to be cut to pieces and floated away on barges. Traffic was closed on the bridge yesterday.
Madison Street Bridge Nos. 5 & 6
Madison Street Bridge No. 6
Madison Street Bridge No. 6
On September 17, 1922 the bridge was ready for the public. Its debut left only one swing bridge left in the loop district at Clark Street. The new bridge’s sidewalks were spacious by contemporary standards—13 feet, 6 inches wide (the old bridge had sidewalks measuring 5 feet, 6 inches). According to the City Engineer Thomas Pihlfeldt, the new bridge contained 1,800 tons of steel and the machinery to move it weighed 250 tons. There were 4,000 yards of concrete in its substructure.
It was quite a difference from the first bridge crossing the river at Madison Street back in 1849, made of floating logs, and costing $1,000, which was paid by subscription from adjacent property owners.
Chicago Tribune, November 24, 1922
OPEN NEW MADISON STREET BRIDGE
Work begun on Aug. 17 was completed yesterday and the new trunnion bascule bridge thrown open to pedestrians and street car traffic. The total cost of the bridge and east approach is $1,600,000. The bridge has a roadway thirty-eight feet wide.
The Civic Opera House From the Madison Street Bridge