Sunday, July 29, 2018

July 29, 1914 -- Canal Street Railroad Bridge Makes Way



July 29, 1914:  Destruction begins on the swing bridge at Canal Street to make way for the new vertical lift bridge for the Pennsylvania Railroad as the new bridge stands, nearly complete, above it.  The new bridge will be the heaviest lift span in the country.  Today it is the only bridge of its type on the Chicago River system.  When it is raised, the bridge provides 130 feet of clearance for traffic on the river below.  According to historicbridges.com“The lift truss span was constructed outward from the towers with the use of special falsework that angled back into the tower so that it would not be in the river obstructing boats … As built the bridge contained 6,941,000 pounds of structural steel and machinery. An interesting design feature of the bridge was that the northern piers of the bridge were built overly wide, so that half of these piers could support half of a second vertical lift bridge, should the railroad have wished to add more trackage to the line.”  The top photo shows the new bridge towering above the original swing bridge in 1914.  The color photo shows the bridge today in its lowered position.


July 29, 1934 – The Dymaxion, a three-wheeled automobile, arrives at the Century of Progress World’s Fair with Buckminster Fuller, its designer, driving the vehicle onto the fairgrounds where it will be exhibited at the Crystal House on Northerly Island.  Nineteen feet long with front wheel drive and a single wheel at the rear, the car is capable of traveling at 120 miles per hour.  The photo above shows the Dymaxion beside architect George F. Keck's "Crustal House" on Northerly Island.


 July 29, 1936:  The motor ship Material Service sinks early in the morning a mile north of the lighthouse at Eighty-Sixth Street as she is caught in an open-water gale for which she was not designed.  Although seven members of the crew are rescued, Captain C. D. Brown and 15 other crewmembers die.  First Mate John M. Johnson says upon his rescue, “We were going along as usual when suddenly the vessel listed to port.  Then it came back on an even keel, but immediately began to sink.  We had the usual complement of lifeboats, but the sinking was so sudden that there was no chance to launch them.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 29, 1936]  The ship had hauled a load of gravel from Lockport to Chicago, and had left the mouth of the Chicago River around midnight, headed south for a dock in the Calumet Harbor area when disaster struck.

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