Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Superior Viaduct

Superior Viaduct
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Today's installment in the occasional series about Cleveland bridges takes us to the Superior Viaduct, the monumental remains of a former bridge. The remaining stone arches suggest the bridge was ancient and served for centuries, but in fact it had a remarkably short life. It opened in 1878 as the city's first high-level bridge, i.e. a bridge that didn't have to open for every passing ship on the Cuyahoga River. The over-water part of the bridge was a swing span, though, because the bridge still wasn't quite high enough to let all ships pass beneath without opening. This turned out to be the bridge's Achilles heel. In 1918 the higher Detroit-Superior Bridge opened and effectively replaced it, and the Superior Viaduct closed to traffic soon afterward. The bridge was condemned in 1920, and demolished by 1923.

Superior Viaduct

The part I haven't gotten a clear idea about is how the arches survived another 90 years after the rest of the bridge was torn out. The viaduct's considered a beautiful historic landmark today, but I imagine that in 1961 or so it would have been seen as an ugly relic and an Obstacle in the Way of Progress, and things tended to get bulldozed back then if they stood in the way of Progress. In any case, here are a few links about the viaduct, with more history and more photos:

Superior Viaduct Superior Viaduct Superior Viaduct

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