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Frank Lloyd Wright Bridge

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Photos 

Looking Due East From West Side

All photos of the bridge were taken by Thomas G. Yanul for the Historic American Engineering Record in October, 1984.

Photo taken by Historic American Engineering Record

View photos at Library of Congress

Map 

Street View 

Description 

The Ravine Bluffs Development Bridge (also known as the Sylvan Road Bridge), constructed as the entrance to a housing subdivision developed by his friend and attorney Sherman Booth, was one of only two freestanding built bridges designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Six houses including one for Booth were built in the development, along with three entrance features (sculptures with street lamps and planters) and the Ravine Bluffs Bridge. The entrance features and the bridge were executed in reinforced concrete. Although the bridge was a unique example of Wright's work, many of its elements exemplify the Prairie School style he originated. These include strong horizontal lines, rectilinear geometric massing, planting urns and built-in lighting and seating. The cantilevered sidewalk and innovative use of cast-in-place concrete are other Wright trademarks.

From the Historic American Engineering Record report of the Ravine Bluffs Development Bridge.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Bridge 

Written by J.R. Manning

This bridge was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as part of the development of the Ravine Bluffs Subdivision in the Village of Glencoe.

This was one of two bridges, designed by Wright, that were actually built. The other is a simple concrete span that is part of the driveway for the private residence of Edgar J. Kaufmann, built in 1935, in Mill Run, Pennsylvania. The Kaufmann home, better known as "Fallingwater," is part of a heritage preservation area, southeast of Pittsburgh. Information about the residence can be found at the official Fallingwater website.

The importance of the Sylvan Road, or Frank Lloyd Wright Bridge, was recognized by a report of historic bridges from the Illinois Department of Transporation in the late 1980s. The significance of Wright's bridge was noted as such:

Nowhere was an early blend of horizontal lines and function more dramatic than in the bridge designed in 1915 by Frank Lloyd Wright. Built over a ravine in Glencoe near a home of his design, Wright's only bridge combined continuity in the deck with a supporting frame of slender members. Replaced in 1985, the new bridge is outwardly an exact replica of the original structure but internally incorporates state of the art reinforcement techniques. The 1915 structure was on the National Register.

The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The Site number is 78001137. According to HAER, because the original bridge was demolished and replicated, but not restored, it was removed from the NRHP listings. However, as of this writing, the bridge still appears in the database.

Facts 

Overview
Lost Bridge over Ravine on Sylvan Road
Location
Glencoe, Cook County, Illinois
Status
Replaced by new bridge
History
Built 1915 as part of a residential development; Demolished 1984; Replaced 1985
Builder
- Frank Lloyd Wright of Richland Center, Wisconsin (Designer)
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 14.0 ft.
Total length: 49.5 ft.
Deck width: 15.1 ft.
Recognition
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on June 23, 1978
Also called
Sylvan Road Bridge
Ravine Bluffs Development Bridge
Bridge Over Ravine
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.14458, -87.76300   (decimal degrees)
42°08'40" N, 87°45'47" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/436953/4666110 (zone/easting/northing)
USGS topographic map
Highland Park
Inventory number
BH 43889 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • January 17, 2010: Essay added by J.R. Manning

Sources 

  • J.R. Manning - thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net
  • HAER IL-14 - Ravine Bluffs Development Bridge, Spanning ravine at Sylvan Road, Glencoe, Cook County, IL
  • Steve Conro - sconro [at] yahoo [dot] com

Comments 

Frank Lloyd Wright Bridge
Posted October 12, 2013, by Steve Conro (sconro [at] yahoo [dot] com)

If the existing bridge is a replacement it looks true to the original.