Welcome to a new section of Chicago Loop Bridges. I've called it "People" because the facts and statistics associated with the bridges are just a piece of the story of Chicago's bridges. People planned, designed, built, operate and maintain these bridges. In this section of the site I hope to put a face on some of these individuals.
The bridges in downtown Chicago have been in service between 29 and 100 years. Almost every one of these bridges have a plaque listing names of those involved in the planning, design, or construction of the bridge like the ones shown below. Have you ever wondered about the people behind the names on the plaques? I have.
Obviously, the people associated with the oldest bridges are no longer available to visit with. The two bridges completed in the 1980's provide an opportunity to talk with people who have first hand knowledge of the bridges as they were planned and constructed.
In the Summer of 2012, I was fortunate enough to lead a family tour from the McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum that included a gentleman named Al Baker. If you take a look at the plaque above, you will see that there is an Albert Baker listed as the Assistant Chief Engineer. As the tour progressed, it was clear that these two Al Bakers were one in the same.
After the tour, Al was kind enough to provide some input on the history of the Columbus Dr. bridge for my press release on its 30th anniversary. He was also kind enough to grant me an interview. Read Al's story here.
Al Baker invited me to a luncheon of retirees from the Chicago Public Works Department (forerunner to CDOT). At this luncheon, I met a number of individuals including Louis Koncza - the City Engineer listed on the Columbus Dr. bridge plaque. Louis granted me an interview as well. Read Louis' story here.
This is hopefully just the beginning. If you, or someone you know, has been or is involved with Chicago's movable bridges and would like to contribute to this section please contact me via email or telephone (312-540-0696). I would like to add your stories / reflections to the collection.