Early Chicago, 1833–1871
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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July 11, 1864


Chicago's first pivot bridge was built at Clark Street in 1854. Five years later the first iron bridge west of the Allegheny Mountains was built at Rush Street. It too was a pivot bridge. Design faults caused it to collapse in 1863.

Construction of a bridge across the Chicago River at State Street was approved on July 11, 1864. It also had a pivot design. The bridge itself was 104 feet long. When it was swung open to allow barges and ships to pass, openings on each side had 74 feet clearances. The approach to the bridge from Wolcott Street was by a viaduct which extended above the yards of the Galena and Chicago Railroad. The State Street bridge burned in the Fire of 1871.

Points to Consider

Why would a bridge at State Street be an advantage to the Galena and Chicago Railroad?

Which kind of bridge was going to be constructed there and why?

Why was Marsh's Packing House located next to the Chicago River?

Is Wolcott Street currently where it was in 1864?

See Related Document:

7, 32, 35, 39, and 50
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