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Want to own a historic Chicago bridge?

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Now is your chance to save the Chicago Avenue bridge

David Wilson/Wikimedia Commons

The historic Chicago Avenue bridge is up for sale and all you have to bear is the cost of removal.

The city posted a public notice on Tuesday, June 5 seeking a patron to carefully remove the bridge and propose a plan to preserve its historic features. So far, it doesn’t look like they are any takers.

The bridge qualifies for the National Register of Historic Places, which is why the city is accepting proposals to save the 100-year-old bridge until July 13. It’s federal law that any state with plans to demolish a historic bridge must first search for someone who would be able to take custody.

If no one heeds the call, the city will then demolish and construct a new steel and concrete bridge, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The new bridge, incorporated into the traffic plan set by One Chicago Square development, has been long awaited and is aimed at alleviating congestion from major projects such as the River District.

The Chicago Avenue bridge is a significant piece of history. It was built in 1914 by Ketler-Elliot, a company that constructed many of the city’s bridges, making it one of the oldest pony truss bascule bridges in Chicago.

A bascule bridge is one that has moveable section which is raised and lowered using counterweights. Pony truss refers to the style and shape of the bridge’s sides.

The Chicago Avenue bridge is also one of the first to construct a permanent tender house with concrete instead of wood. The tender house is where the controls to the bridge were located and where the operator would reside.

This particular bridge, along with others built between 1910 to 1914, set a precedent for incorporating aesthetics into public infrastructure, according to the Library of Congress and Historic Bridges website. Chicago architects G. W. Maher and E. C. Jensen submitted designs that were later incorporated into Chicago Avenue bridge. Around this time the Chicago Plan Commission and the Bridge Division began coordinating plans and architectural styles. Some of the features used here became standard for future Chicago bascule bridges.

Library of Congress
Library of Congress