If you live or work in Philadelphia, there’s something I know you see almost daily that you never notice. The poor Market Street Bridge must feel so used. So many people walk, bike, and drive over it every day and never think twice about it!
For something so utilitarian, it has quite a bit of history behind it. When walking over a bridge, most people rarely think, “I wonder how many bridges have been here before this one?” Well the answer to that question, my dear Philadelphians, is: three. The bridge you walk across today is the fourth attempt at building a “permanent” bridge for Market Street to continue across the Schuylkill. Granted, the effort began in 1805 with a wooden bridge, so I think I’ll give it to them for only 4 attempts in 206 years. Go civil engineers!
The Market Street Bridge that is there today is about 79 years old, being built in 1932. Despite the relatively young bridge that you see in Philadelphia today, there are elements of it I bet you’ve only glanced at that are much older. See, when Philly finally constructed a bridge that was not made of wood and seemed like it would last more than 31 years, the rest of the country must’ve breathed a sigh of relief. New York sent over these sweet eagles made in 1903 that used to reside in Penn Station:
Just below the eagles are a few lion-head sculptures, I wasn’t able to find out much about them, but they’re kind of handsome.
So in case you choose not to read this post, or if you’d like the Cliff Notes, you can always check out the plaque on the inner south side of the bridge itself. It has a quick history of the Permanent Bridge (as it was dubbed in the early 1800s- oh silly Timmy Palmer and his Linkin’ Logs).
Picture credit: me (lauralucy)