Greenpoint, October, 2015

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I Bought a Little Bridge

Crawford Street Bridge
While in Rhode Island for Thanksgiving, I decided to do a little bridge-hopping, with an eye towards the imminent replacement of our beloved Kosciuszko Bridge. Providence, of course, is a kind of mecca for bridge nuts like myself. When I first moved to Providence in the late 1980's, the city was home to the "world's widest bridge." Actually, you wouldn't have known you were on a bridge or above water at all. The Crawford Street Bridge, at 1147 feet, was more like a concrete traffic circle and parking platform connecting the city's East Side and Downtown. The Providence Public Library has a great collection of bridge photos here.

The bridge has been replaced with a series of much narrower spans above  the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck Rivers, both of which it had covered. The regular "Waterfire" events bring draw tourists from as far away as Worcester.

Point Street Bridge today
It may not make the Guinness Book of World Records, but Providence may still be unique as the site of one bridge that can't open and another that can't close. The Point Street Bridge was built in 1927 as a "swing bridge," i.e., one that pivots to allow river traffic into Downtown Providence. I'm not sure when it was last swung, but whenever that was, it was the last time. Nothing wrong with the bridge, just that the city gave up the required maintenance (including regular pivots) and now the bridge is permanently bonded to its roadways.

One less crook in Providence?
And then there is the bridge that will never close. The Seekonk River Bridge (aka, Crook Point Bascule Bridge) connecting Providence and East Providence. Built in 1903, for decades it has stood at attention, an open symbol. For the decline of the railroads or the decline of Providence. You can still walk out to the middle of the river on its ties and rails for thrills or trysts. But not for much longer. The Coast Guard says it's a navigation hazard. Well, it might make it to 110 before they get around to tearing it down. Not too shabby.

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