Mystery Bridge Nr. 188: An Art Deco Underpass in Chicago

One of our fellow pontists and social media followers brought this photo to our attention recently. It’s a photo of an Art Deco style concrete bridge, featuring two Luten arch approach spans and a concrete beam span. Both of them feature geometric decorations of circles and curved shapes, yet the Luten arches are closed spandrel and supported by concrete railings. These spans are approximately 30 feet, whereas the beam span is between 70 and 90 feet and has steel railings. The piers also feature arches of Luten design. The photo was dated 1948 and judging by the features, it appears that the bridge may have been built at that time. The bridge was located at 47th and Knox.

This is where my research comes in, especially when it comes to maps and Street View. The question that came about is whether this bridge existed and where it is located. It didn’t take long until Google Maps took me along West 47th Street and after going through numerous blocks, ended up in the western part of the city at North Knox Avenue. The bridge, which still carries rail traffic today as it did in 1948, is located in an industrial area, near Fort Pitt Furniture Liquidators, Home Products International, Right Away Pallets and Naylor Automotive Engineering.

Then Street View comes in and we have this for you:

The bridge is not listed on any of the bridge websites, but the structure still exists to this day. The only alterations done to the underpass in the 75+ years of functional life was the replacement of the main span, yet the steel railings were preserved and reinstalled in the new span. The approach spans and the arched piers have remained in place and one can walk to the bridge. Roadway nowadays is all concrete which is a stark upgrade to the gravel, as seen in the picture above.

With these in mind, it’s your turn. What do you know about this bridge? We’re looking for the following:

The date of construction

The bridge builder

The exact measurements

The date of the replacement of the main span

The date of its last rehabilitation

Do you have some information and photos to share? Please comment in the section below and use the e-mail address in the page here to send the photos to Jason Smith at the Chronicles. Please keep in mind that photos should be in JPG format only.

Looking forward to seeing some interesting facts about this bridge. After all, your bridge matters. 🙂