65 years at State Street - May 28, 2014

Elevation drawing adapted from CDOT Division of Engineering drawings

Waiting for the green dye at State Street - St. Patrick's Day 2014

The downtown bridge that many see as the last of downtown Chicago's beautiful bridges marks 65 years on May 28th. The State St. bridge was officially christened as the Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Bridge when it opened in 1949.

Bridges have spanned the Chicago River at State St. for 150 years. At 65 years of service, the current bridge accounts for almost half of the bridge history here. A total of five State St. bridges have been built - three center pier swing bridges; one Scherzer rolling lift bascule, and the current Chicago-type, trunnion bascule.

The Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Bridge honors the Chicagoans who suffered and died as prisoners of war after the surrender of Corregidor during WWII. In the resolution naming the bridge, the City Council reasoned that;“The bridge crossing the Chicago River at North State Street is a structure of as great permanence as engineering skill can devise and will be utilized by many millions of people during the course of its existence, therefore … the State Street Bridge … shall be named and dedicated in honor of those residents surrendered to the enemy on May 7, 1942 at Corregidor in the Philippine Islands ...”

The bridge was rededicated in 1998 with a plaque to honor all Filipino and American veterans who fought side-by-side in the battle.

This six-lane movable bridge is the second widest in downtown Chicago. The deck is supported by three rail height trusses. This truss type was developed by Chicago engineers in 1922 to meet the architectural goal of having as little structural steel above the deck as possible.

Looking NW across the State St. bridge

With its two art deco bridgehouses, this bridge marks the end of an era in downtown bridges. All subsequent movable bridges were constructed with only one modern styled bridgehouse.

Funding for the current bridge was first made available in a $3.5 million bond issue in 1930. Because the bridge and State St. subway tunnel river crossing (now the Red Line) projects needed to be closely coordinated, bridge work was delayed until tunnel work was funded in 1939. The subsurface work for the bridge was completed by 1942, but steel and other materials were diverted to support the WWII war effort. Bridge construction resumed in 1947.

The bridge was awarded an “Honorable Mention” in the American Institute of Steel Construction bridge award competition for the most beautiful bridges built during 1949.

While there was no State St. bridge in 1862, there was a nearby slip that accommodated sailing vessels. The Norwegian vessel Sleipner was the first vessel to sail from Europe to Chicago through the St. Lawrence waterway. It arrived in Chicago on August 2, 1862 with 107 immigrants and a cargo of salted fish from Bergen, Norway. A plaque commemorating the centennial of the voyage can be found on the NW bridgehouse.

Bridgehouse plaques are shown below.

1949 dedication plaque; 1949 bridge plaque; 1962 Sleipner plaque (L-R)

1998 re-dedication plaque

Note: sources include: Chicago Daily Tribune 9/15/1862; 4/3/1938; 5/26/1949; 6/1/1949; 7/12/1962 (ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849-1985); Department of Public Works booklet entitled “Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Bridge”; “Two Miles Eighteen Bridges – A walk along the Chicago River.”

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