mcbriartyChicago is a city of bridges. Second only to Amsterdam in the number of drawbridges, the city is connected–and in some cased divided–by the engineering that channels foot, wheeled and marine traffic across the waterways.

Patrick McBriarty, author of Chicago River Bridges, traces the story of those bridges from the first wood footbridge (built by a tavern owner in 1832) to the fantastic marvels of steel, concrete, and machinery of today.

“Chicago is here because of the river,” McBriarty tells Phil Ponce of the public television program Chicago Tonight. “[The river] acted as a harbor and a major waterway connecting the east and west coast making Chicago a center and jumping off point for western expansion and trade.”

As the city grew around the river the communities needed to unite across the waterways. And the bridges built for the people of Chicago led the way with innovations that would influence the style and mechanics of bridges worldwide.

“As Chicago developed, so did the bridges,” McBriarty says.

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