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Clarence Darrow Memorial Bridge


View from northwest

Photo taken by Roger Deschner in March 2018

License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike (CC BY-SA)


BH Photo #419199



Dilapidated, historic bridge is currently closed to all traffic due to deterioration, including some structural members with total section loss. It was closed to car traffic in 2009, and to pedestrians in 2014 barricaded with wrought iron fencing. Walkway underneath west end of bridge remains open. Scheduled for replacement in 2019.

The original bridge at this location was an arched deck truss, built in 1880 by famed architects Burnham & Root. (Photo of 1880 bridge at historicbridges.org link below.) That bridge was retained and incorporated into the World Columbian Exposition. Remains of its abutments still visible, underneath the current bridge, which was built in 1895 (builder unknown) as part of the project to convert the former fair site into Jackson Park. This 1895 bridge uses steel stringers, supporting a modified jack-arch deck that is smooth on its underside.

The bridge is named in honor of noted lawyer Clarence Darrow (1857-1938), who lived nearby, and whose ashes were scattered from the bridge into the lagoon when he died. Darrow's ghost is reputed to haunt the area around the bridge, especially when his passing is marked annually on March 13 at 10:00AM with a ceremonial wreath laying and seance at the bridge.


Steel stringer bridge over Jackson Park North Lagoon on Columbia Drive
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois
Intact but closed to all traffic
Future prospects
Scheduled for replacement in 2019. Design of replacement is a subject of contention - will it be just a UCEB with replica railings?
Original bridge built 1880; this bridge built 1895; closed to vehicles 2009; closed to pedestrians 2014
- Burnham & Root
Steel stringer, supporting jack-arch deck
Span length: 56.0 ft.
Total length: 56.0 ft.
Deck width: 56.0 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Columbia Drive Bridge
North Pond Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.78842, -87.58281   (decimal degrees)
41°47'18" N, 87°34'58" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/451573/4626449 (zone/easting/northing)
Inventory number
BH 80703 (Bridgehunter.com ID)


19th Century (6,912)
Beam (14,483)
Built 1895 (256)
Built during 1890s (2,759)
Burnham & Root (1)
Chicago, Illinois (308)
Closed (2,579)
Cook County, Illinois (430)
Doomed (1,060)
Haunted (32)
Illinois (4,481)
Jack Arch Deck (15)
NR-eligible (4,014)
Owned by city (4,950)
Span length 50-75 feet (9,640)
Steel stringer (5,661)
Total length 50-75 feet (8,993)

Update Log 

  • March 11, 2018: Added by Roger Deschner