Saturday, May 14, 2016
May 14, 1920 – The Michigan Avenue bridge is opened to traffic. It took 24 years and four city mayors to get the project completed, a project that began, according to Mayor William Hale Thompson, with a suggestion from the wife of the city controller in 1891, Mrs. Horatio N. May, who thought it might be just swell to have a link across the river at Michigan Avenue. Twenty years later the first plans for the bridge were drawn up, and in 1913 the first ordinance pertaining to the construction of the bridge was passed. Condemnation proceedings, authorization of bonds to finance the project, and the federal government’s objection to the use of steel for the bridge during wartime kept construction from beginning until April 15, 1918. Finally, at 4 p.m. on this day Mayor Thompson leads a motorcade from Congress Plaza up Michigan Avenue to the new bridge, where he cuts the ceremonial ribbon. Airplanes appear above and drop confetti. Four thousand cars follow the mayor’s automobile across the new bridge. A tiny dirt road on the north side of the river called Pine Street is now poised to become one of the city’s most impressive thoroughfares.