95th St Bridge - Calumet River

The first bridge built at 95th street was a hand operated swing bridge built in the 1880s. In 1899 the swing bridge split in two over the center pier and fell into the river blocking navigation. Luckily the bridgetenders were rescued and no others were hurt. The accident raised much concern about the condition of Chicago's bridges and a number of them were closed as a result.

The replacement bridge had some unusual site work before construction could begin. An old yacht was on the river bank in the way of construction. But this yacht had a story. A couple on their honeymoon had sailed the yacht from northern Michigan in 1875. While they were moored at the foot of 95th Street, the bride fell overboard and drowned. She was buried nearby.

The grief stricken groom vowed to live the rest of his life within site of his wife's grave. He spent several years in the yacht's cabin until it it became so leaky that it had to be pulled up on the banks. He eventually relocated to Indian Ridge.

The hull was repurposed as headquarters of the Seaman's Bethel Mission. By 1900, the vessel was in such disrepair that it could not be moved without falling to pieces. It was scrapped to make room for the new bridge.

Construction on the replacement bridge was started in 1901. This bridge was one of the first Chicago-type bridges built. It was opened to traffic on April 1, 1903 and was in service for about 50 years.

First generation Chicago-type bascule bridge at 95th St. From 1902 CPW Annual Report

New 95th St. bridge in 1958. From 1958 CPW Annual Report

Planning for the current 95th St. bridge began in 1950, construction began in 1955, and it was opened to traffic on June 27, 1958. The clearance under the new six-lane bridge is 21 ft. This was 4.5 ft. more than the old bridge to allow more vessels to pass under the bridge without having to raise it.

While this bridge is a hard working piece of infrastructure, it is most remembered for the jump scene in The Blues Brothers movie (1980). (clip)

Current 95th St. bridge

For more information on this bridge see Historicbridges.org.

Bridge plaque 95th St. bridge

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Sources:

CPWD Annual Reports 1890-1938 & 1950-1958

“Bridge falls in river: ninety-fifth street draw collapses into the Calumet” August 18, 1899; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Chicago Tribune

“Old yacht with a romantic history soon to be destroyed”; October 6, 1900; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Chicago Tribune

95th street's new bridge to open June 27; June 14, 1958; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Chicago Tribune

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