Thursday, August 27, 2009

King Bridge Co. & Brooklyn-Brighton Bridge

I had a nice field trip this afternoon that centered around the old King Bridge Company of Cleveland and especially its work on the Brooklyn-Brighton Bridge in 1894. My bridge engineer and bridge history enthusiast buddy Bill V. and I drove out to Brunswick to visit someone whose grandfather was once an employee of the company and who has some surviving letters, photographs and account books pertaining to his construction projects circa 1894 to 1906. We'll be digitizing these materials and posting them to Cleveland Memory in the coming weeks.

On the way back, Bill and I swung by the Brooklyn-Brighton Bridge, where Pearl Road crosses Big Creek, to see what's left of an earlier King Bridge mentioned in some of the material. When you get underneath today's high-level bridge, you can find an interesting spot full of bridge history. At this point Big Creek flows through a wonderful stone arch bridge from 1865 that only carries a driveway into a commercial building, but once upon a time was the only way to cross Big Creek in the middle of the nineteenth century. It's perhaps the second-oldest stone arch bridge in the county, the only older one being next to the remnants of the Superior Viaduct, in the Flats.

Next to this fully-functional bridge are surviving pieces of several newer bridges that carried traffic at a higher level over Big Creek. Right next to it are some piers for a King Bridge Company steel arch bridge, which was the second high-level bridge at that crossing when constructed in 1894. Next to those piers are some larger piers from a 1916 bridge, on top of which the current Brooklyn-Brighton Bridge was built in 1986. (There were a couple others too, but no trace of them has been found)

An unexpected find concerned the railroad bridge that crosses within a few yards of all these other bridges. Bill hung over the side and discovered a bridge plate crediting this structure to the King Bridge Company as well, having been erected in 1916.

Fully in the mood to explore King Bridge Co. structures, on the way back we swung through Riverside Cemetery and examined the approaches at each end of a demolished King park bridge from the 1890s. Other than the concrete work and some ornamental iron railings and posts, there's nothing left to see, but it once connected the opposite sides of the cemetery, over what must have been a stream running through the valley.

We will gradually put up more information about these bridges in Cleveland Memory and its specialize point of access "Historic Landmarks of Northeast Ohio" (bridges). But it makes me happy when these landmarks of historical Cleveland can still be found in some form, even just piers, approaches and stone walls. Not to get off on another whole topic, I certainly hope that ODOT will preserve the remaining pieces of the old Central Viaduct, when they add a second span to the Inner Belt Bridge.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Best and Worst U.S. Mayors: Johnson and Kucinich

As many Clevelanders would probably concur, a poll reported in the book America's Big City Mayors: the Experts Name the Best and the Worst has concluded that Tom L. Johnson was the second-best big-city mayor in U.S. history (1820 to 1980), while Dennis Kucinich was ranked the seventh worst. The poll considered 679 candidates.

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Levi Scofield's house

In her really interesting blog CityProwl's Jennifer Coleman discloses the presence of historic Cleveland architect Levi Scofield's home, overlooking the Fairmout Reservoir. Here's a Bing birdseye view of it, but Jennifer's provided some neat ground level shots in Flickr, which you can access from her blog.

The Scofield home is in pretty bad shape, but I share her sentiment that someone should save and restore it.

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