Chicago’s Clark St. Bridge Turns 85

Clark Street Bridge“Great Parade to Open Span, Hail New Era - Clark Bridge to Be Ready July 10” - that’s the headline from the Chicago Daily Tribune in June of 1929 before the Clark St. Bridge opened 85 years ago yesterday.

The parade consisted of 10 groups depicting the development of Chicago’s Clark St. from trail to modern city thoroughfare. Organized by local merchants, the parade was a celebration of the new steel bascule bridge and a show of appreciation to the Chicago Public Works Department for completing the bridge six months ahead of schedule. This was the last bridge built using pony trusses in the city’s downtown area. 

The Clark St. Bridge is operated about 40 times each year for seasonal sailboat runs to and from Lake Michigan. Currently the south bank of the Chicago River between State and LaSalle streets is undergoing a transformation as the Chicago Riverwalk is being extended west. After the dust clears next spring it will be possible for pedestrians to walk underneath the bridge. There are many reasons to like Chicago’s Riverwalk, but for a bridge enthusiast the ability to watch a bridge rise above you is a special treat. 

For more information about the Clark St. Bridge, contact Jim Phillips (who provided this commentary) at 312.540.0696, or visit his website, which features multimedia pages for all of the Chicago Loop bridges.