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Gangway for Andy: 1900

Chicago circa 1900. "12th Street bascule bridge." Andy about to overtake A.B. Ward on the Chicago River. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative. View full size.

Chicago circa 1900. "12th Street bascule bridge." Andy about to overtake A.B. Ward on the Chicago River. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative. View full size.


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This is the OLD B&OCT bridge

The photographer was probably standing on or near the 12th Street Bridge; the pictured bridge was a long double-leaf railroad bridge that crossed the river at a very shallow angle to access Chicago's Grand Central Station. Double-leaf drawbridges proved problematic for heavy steam locomotives, and the bridge's location limited river navigation.

The pictured bridge was removed when the river channel was straightened in the 1920s, and the bridges disfromage shows are the replacements built until 1930-31.

Radial Brick Chimneys

Those brick chimneys are quite impressive. They even put a little design flair into those back in the day as well. Nice!

Chicago Reversal

Just an aside--1900 was also the year they reversed the course of the Chicago River so that it no longer emptied into Lake Michigan and instead, deposited waste water downstream.


I'd like to put a Penny under the rocker of that bridge, bet it'd be flatter than one run over by a Locomotive!

Are you sure

...that's not the River Styx?

Marine Traffic

One of my favorite Detroit Publishing photographs, this view reveals a fascinating glimpse of the varied and heavy marine traffic on the Chicago River early in the last century.

The A.B. Ward, built 1866 by the Miller Brothers shipyard, Chicago's earliest major shipbuilder, is shown in the employ of the Y&L Coal Company, which specialized in bunkering vessels on the river and its two branches. The contraption she tows is a crane barge that would hoist the buckets visible broadside to awaiting craft to have their contents of coal tipped into their bunkers.

The Andy was built by E.A. Heath at Benton Harbor, Michigan, for that city's Graham & Morton Transportation Company, a major steamboat operator between Chicago and the lower East Shore of Lake Michigan, for harbor work in that town, and named for Morton's son Andrew. In 1911 the Texas Company would build a major refinery at Lockport at the terminus of the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal, and the firm employed the Andy to shuttle tank barges between there and Chicago. In December that year, she was crushed by ice at the refinery and a total loss.

In the distance between the Ward's tow and the dredge on the east bank one can make out the I.M. Weston, built 1883 at Grand Haven, Michigan, by Scottish emigre shipbuilder and naval architect Duncan Robertson. In 1900 she became the property of the Drainage Canal Amusement Company (an odd name, to be sure) and, her superstructure cut down to pass beneath that waterways bridges, she gave excursion from 12th Street (today's Roosevelt Road) along the Drainage Canal and back in what was then bucolic greenery. The Weston burned a total loss in 1902 at Summit, Illinois, on the canal.

Clever photographer

He got the smoke to all blow one way.

Beautiful photo, BTW.

Is it OK to Toot My Own Horn?

An image from my book Midstream: The Chicago River 1999-2010 showing the same bridge as it looked recently.

More photographs can be seen at

A coal powered world

That's the way it looked. Too bad that most of the relatively clean-burning anthracite in the US is now gone. The bulk of what we have left is dirty brown lignite, so our coal powered future will be much murkier than our past.

Few hues

I don't think it would be much work to colorize this photo. Grey, black, brown.

The Ultimate Bedtime Story

Scuffy tows Mary Anne to her new home in Chicago's First Ward.

A.B. Ward

The A.B. Ward was built in 1866 and mostly destroyed in a boiler explosion in 1881 with the loss of three crew. She was rebuilt and abandoned in 1911.

Clean Air

Ahhhhh. Wishing for the clean air of the good old days.

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