A Short Trip South
  • St. Charles Airline bridge
  • Amtrak vertical lift bridge
  • Canal St. bridge
  • Canal St. & Amtrak bridges
  • West end of the Cermak Rd. rolling lift bridge
  • Cermak Rd. rolling lift bridge

If you are interested in seeing some additional examples of movable bridges in Chicago, you can find them a short distance away near Chicago's Chinatown. The slide show above presents photos of the bridges in this area. You will find a 1915 vertical lift railroad bridge (now owned by Amtrak) near the Ping Tom Memorial Park; a 1906 (rebuilt in 1997) Scherzer rolling lift bascule bridge near 300 W. Cermak Rd; and a 1949 fixed trunnion bascule near 2100 S. Canal St. These bridges are operational during the Spring and Fall bridge lift seasons. The railroad bridge is remotely operated on-demand because of its low clearance.

You can reach these bridges from the Loop by taking the Red Line south to the Cermak/Chinatown stop. From the Red Line station you can either walk west for about half a mile on W. Cermak Rd. or take the Number 21 bus west to the S. Canal - W. Cermak intersection. All three of these bridges can be seen from this intersection (CTA Trip Planner).

An alternative approach to CTA during the summer season is to take the Chicago Water Taxi to Chinatown (Ping Tom Memorial Park). From there you can make your way to W. Cermak Rd. and continue west to the S. Canal - W. Cermak intersection (take the exit from the park to S Tan Ct. / turn right and walk SW to S. Princeton Ave / turn left and walk SE on Princeton until you reach the intersection of Cermak and Archer / turn right on Cermak and walk to the Cermak and Canal intersection - just past this intersection you will see the Cermak Bridge total distance from park to bridge area approx. 0.6 miles).

St. Charles Airline Bridge

This bridge is located between the Roosevelt Rd. and 18th St. bridges. The best vantage point to see this Strauss designed heel trunnion bridge is from the water taxi route to Chinatown. It was built in 1919 before the South Branch was straightened. The bridge was moved to its current location in 1930 after the river was straightened. This bridge is still operable. More information about this bridge can be found at Historicbridges.org. (Information about the neighboring inoperable bridge can be found here).

Amtrak Vertical Lift Bridge

The Amtrak bridge east of Canal St. is a vertical lift bridge built in 1915. It operates similar to an elevator, with the center span raised as the counterweights move down the vertical towers. This video was taken from the deck of the S. Canal St. bridge. The initial warning siren heard on the audio portion is coming from the moving bridge. All other audio (and vibration in the video) is due to the traffic crossing the S. Canal St. bridge, not from the raising railroad bridge, which is surprisingly quiet in action. For additional information on the Amtrak vertical lift bridge see Historicbridges.org.

W. Cermak Rd. - Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge

The mechanism and machinery used to operate the fixed trunnion bascule bridges in Chicago are all below the roadway. The rolling lift bridge has its operating equipment above the roadway. This bascule bridge operates by rolling back on the river bank rather than rotating about a fixed pivot point. The video below was taken near the "track" shown in the photo above. As the bridge is raised, the leaf rolls toward the camera. In the last portion of the video, the superstructure of the bridge comes into view. The audio portion consists primarily of the warning bells signaling a bridge lift. For additional information on the Cermak bridge see Historicbridges.org.

S. Canal St. Bridge

This fixed trunnion bascule bridge was opened in 1948. It has pony trusses like many of the Loop bridges and its art deco bridgehouses are similar to those seen at the N. State St. bridge. More information can be found at Historicbridges.org.