Spanning the Schuylkill River at Callowhill and Spring Garden Streets
|1890. That's a nice looking bridge right there.|
With the super-awesome Centennial Exhibition approaching, Philadelphia needed cool new shit to show off for the multitude of guests from around the world that would be visiting the city. The iconic Wire Bridge at Fairmount was getting old at this point and the retro look was definitely not in. The Centennial Exhibition was about innovation and the future. Let the shitty-ass Sesquicentennial Exhibition be about the past.
They took down the kick-ass Wire Bridge at Fairmount and contracted famous bridge engineer J. H. Linville and the Keystone Bridge Company to design a super kickasstastic mega bridge that would stand out as the finest and most high-tech in the union. Linville pulled out all the stops and designed a double-decked rail and pedestrian bridge that connected Callowhill Street AND Spring Garden Street on either side of the river. It would be 48 feet wide, running 1,254 feet, (350 over the river) with 2,730 foot approaches on either side.
The approaches were designed by Strickland Kneass and pissed Linville the fuck off. Linville didn't want the bridge to have decorated arches because then it would look way too cool, but Kneass went ahead and made the approaches all arched, so Linville was forced to continue the arches through the bridge structure. Just to be an asshole, he created a Whipple Truss wrought iron superstructure and tacked some non-weightbearing cast iron arches along the sides.
Construction began in 1874 and the bridge opened in 1875. The pricetag? 1.2 million dollars... a ridiculously high amount for the time.
|Approach to the lower level. They sure don't make 'em like this anymore.|
By 1900, people had enough of this shit. The cast iron arches on the bridge were removed and a new metal framework was built for the approaches. For the rest of its existence, the bridge would expose its less-exciting wrought iron Whipple Trusses.
|1904 view of De-Arched Callowhill Street Bridge|
|The Lower Deck in 1954.|
This bridge shows how something that was cool as fuck in 1875 could be considered a piece of shit only 20-some years later. The next time you go over the modern highway-ramp style version of this bridge, make sure to piss out the window in honor of its great predecessor.
|1960 skyline view from the last years of the Callowhill Street Bridge.|