Kinzie Street Bridge is part of Chicago history

You see it standing tall on the Chicago River. The Kinzie Street Bridge is one of Chicago's iconic landmarks.

The Kinzie Street Bridge is a designated Chicago Landmark. It is a single leaf bascule (draw) bridge. This particular design is known as bobtail bridge, as the concrete counterweight sits above the bridge, unlike modern bascule bridges.


Kinzie Street Bridge. (Peter V. Bella)

The site is where the first bridge to cross the Chicago River was located. This was a pedestrian bridge built in 1832.

In 1852, the first railroad bridge to cross the river was erected at the site.

In 1879 the bridge was replaced with a swing bridge, one of two steel railroad bridges in the nation. The Bessemer steel used was too brittle and the bridge was replaced in 1898.

The new bridge was constructed off site and floated into place on pontoons. In a record 27 hours the old bridge was demolished and the new bridge was put in place.

Due to the increase in river and rail traffic, the increasing sizes of ships and boats using the river, and safety concerns, the current bridge was built in 1907.

During the latter part of the Twentieth Century rail traffic in the downtown area decreased rapidly. The two largest businesses using the bridge were the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun Times.

By the 1990s, the Sun Times was the only business using the bridge. One train per day serviced their printing plant.


Chicago used to sit on the banks of the Chicago river. The city was raised 18 feet through the engineering feat of George Pullman. Pullman went on to found the Pullman Rail car company. (Peter V. Bella)

Chicago used to sit on the banks of the Chicago river. The Kinzie Street Bridge is left.  (Peter V. Bella)

In 2001 the Sun Times relocated their printing facilities. The bridge had no other use and was put out of commission.

The Kinzie Street bridge was left the upright position. In 2007 the Kinzie Street Bridge was one of 12 rail bridges designated as Chicago Landmarks.


Filed under: Uncategorized

Leave a comment