Patrick T. McBriarty is a writer and creative producer based in Chicago and the co-producer, with Stephen Hatch, of the documentary film Chicago Drawbridges. He recently answered some questions about his new photographic guidebook Chicago River Bridges.
Q: What is the significance of the bridges for Chicago?
Patrick T. McBriarty: Chicago has long called itself the Drawbridge Capital of the World and has more drawbridges than any city in North America. Chicago, in classic Second City form, is only second in the world to Amsterdam in the number of drawbridges, but has the greatest variety and collection of different drawbridge designs of any city on Earth. For 150 years, Chicago has been the world center for moveable bridge innovation, design, and testing. Chicagoans hold more drawbridge patents than other city and more new drawbridge designs and innovations were first invented, built, and/or tried in Chicago than anywhere else. Around the turn of the last century, city engineers created the Chicago-type bascule bridge, which is world-renowned in design and engineering circles and been used nationally and internationally. In parallel, it is not surprising great bridge designers and builders like Strauss, Modjeski, Scherzer, Ericson, Rall, Page, Philfeldt, von Babo, Young, and Becker all were drawn to Chicago and created many of the bridges still in use today. Continue reading