Chicago Illustrated, February 1866
RUSH STREET BRIDGE, is but one of a series of views intended to give a fair, general representation of the river and harbor of Chicago. The sketch is taken from the new bridge at State street, and looks eastwardly to Rush-street bridge. There was no bridge upon the river east of Clark street until 1857. Previous to that time the only means of crossing was by a rope ferry at the point where now stands Rush-street bridge. In the fall of 1856 this ferry boat, while crowded with passengers, was run down by a passing tug, and some some six or eight lives were lost, and then steps were taken to erect a bridge at that place.
The undertaking was a large one for the time. The river was somewhat strengthened—or perhaps it should be said that the bend in the river was made less abrupt—by widening it on the side. Near the south end of the bridge there stood the inner light-jouse, which was then discontinued. Old Fort Dearborn, from which Chicago took the name it bore for many years, was situated near the south end of this bridge, and was torn down about the time the bridge was built.
The bridge built upon this site, in 1857, was an iron bridge of handsome construction, and cost, including the mason work of the central pier, and of the adjustments and approached, fifty-ywo thousand dollars. It was built by Harper and Tweedale, and was considered a model of strength and durability. The bridge was two hundred and nine feet long and thirty-three feet wide, turning upon a pivot in the water. The approaches measured. south forty feet, north seventy feet. In November, 1863, while a small vessel approaching, a herd of cattle was driven upon the bridge. The driver, unable to understand the remonstrances of the bridge-tender, or unable to control the movements of the cattle, disregarded the signal, and did not check the animals. The bridge was swung, to avoid a collision with the vessel; and when it got clear of the supports, the great weight of the cattle on one end caused it to slip from its central balance, and it then broke and fell into the river, a shapeless mass of broken and twisted iron. Though several persons were on the bridge at the time, no serious injury was sustained. A large number of cattle was drowned, and others were killed beneath the fragments of the broken bridge.
The new structure, which is represented in this view, is of the same dimensions as the original bridge, but is built of wood. Fox and Howard, of Chicago, erected it in 1864, for the city, at a cost of ten thousand dollars.
On the left of the picture is the elevator of the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, now one of the Northwestern Railway Comapny, and on the right is seen Jewett and Root’s stove warehouse. It will be seen that Bennet Pieters and Company had, at the time the sketch was taken, sole occupancy of the fenders of the new bridge, in advertising their famous Red Jacket Bitters.
James W. Sheehan, Esq.,