Cortland Street Drawbridge
The Cortland Street Drawbridge (originally known as the Clybourn Place drawbridge) over the Chicago River is the original Chicago-style fixed-trunnion bascule bridge, designed by John Ericson and Edward Wilmann. When it opened in 1902 on the north side of Chicago, it was the first such bridge built in the United States. The bridge was a major advance in American movable bridge engineering, and the type was employed for over 50 additional bridges in Chicago alone. The bridge was designated as an ASCE Civil Engineering Landmark in 1981, and a Chicago Landmark in 1991.

This is the bridge type that Chicago engineers may be most famous for. The trunnion bascule has two bridge leaves hinged on opposing riverbanks. The bridge is drawn up by giant trunnion bearings. "Bascule" is French for "seesaw"; the bridge is named for the counterweights which balance the weight of the bridge leaves.

This is the second bridge built on this site. The previous bridge was a swing design which was characterized by a mid-river pier for the swing span. The current (1902) bridge removed the requirement for the mid-river pier, leaving more room for ships. While the machinery of the current bridge is intact, the bridge is no longer able to open and the leaves are clamped together in the center. The Cortland Bridge is currently still used for 2-way vehicle traffic, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic.


2 photos

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings updated 9 media and uploaded a media file
    sspf cortlandstdrawbridge
    about 6 years ago via