Chicago Architecture Info

Michigan Avenue Bridge

Also known as
DuSable Bridge
Michigan Avenue spanning the main branch of the Chicago River
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Basic Information
Designed by Edward Burnnett
Cost $1,800,000
Type Bridge
Floors: 2
Neighborhood: The Loop
More Information
  • Total length: 256 feet
  • Clear span: 220 feet
  • Total width: 92 feet
  • Height above water: 17 feet (variable)
  • Each leaf weighs about 6.7 million pounds.
  • Bridge engineers Thomas Pihlfeldt & Hugh Young were fired by the city before the bridge was completed, and sued. The Western Society of Engineers described the trial as a "farce" and warned its members not to work for the City of Chicago. In its 1922 journal, the society wrote, "Engineers who have a regard for their personal reputations and professional standing will hardly choose to subject either to gratuitous attach by entering a service in which political influence apparently counts for very much more than does faithful work for the public." The city's Commissioner of Public Works and three other city employees were fired.
  • Bad tour guides will tell tourists that this bridge was designed after the Siene Bridge in Paris. There is no Seine Bridge in Paris. There are 37 bridges across the Seine River in Paris. However, some people believe the Michigan Avenue Bridge is modeled after the Alexander III Bridge (Pont Alexandre III), built for the 1900 Paris Universal Exposition.
  • The bridge is raised and lowered by a pair of 108 horsepower motors.
  • This bridge is actually constructed as two bridges, and if necessary one side can be raised for maintenance while traffic continues to flow on the other.
  • The northwest bridge pylon was paid for by William Wrigley, Junior. It features a bas relief called Pioneers by James Earle Fraser. It depicts pioneer fur trader and early city resident John Kinzie.
  • The northeast bridge pylon was paid for by William Wrigley, Junior. It features a has relief called Discoverers by James Earle Fraser. It depicts explorers Joliet and Marquette.
  • The southwest bridge pylon was paid for by the Ferguson Memorial Fund. It features a bas relief called Defense by Henry Herring, depicting the Fort Dearborn Massacre.
  • The southeast bridge pylon was paid for by the Ferguson Memorial Fund. It features a bas relief of the rebuilding of Chicago after the Great Chicago Fire by Henry Herring.
  • The sculpture of Father Marquette on the Bridget's northeast pylon is wrong. Marquette is wearing Franciscan clothing when he was actually a Jesuit.
  • 1928: The four limestone bridgehouses were added. They are adorned with sculptures depicting Chicago history by J.E. Fraser and Henry Herring.
  • 1970's: The bridge's historic decorative railings were removed and replaced with modern railings.
  • October 2, 1991: This bridge was named a Chicago landmark.
  • 2006: A Chicago River museum opened in the bridge's southwest bridgehouse.
  • 2010: As part of a renovation of the bridge, the decorative railings that were removed 40 years earlier were replaced.