This bridge was built by the Southern Pacific railroad under pressure from the city after increasing rail traffic was making passage to the neighborhoods difficult. It was assembled from parts from other bridges. Available information on this bridge disagrees on the original source of the spans. One source (http://www.sanantonio.gov/historic/docs/Hays%20Street%20Brid...) mentions an original construction date of 1887 as a part of a bridge crossing the Atchafalaya basin. Others refer to an 1881 date for a bridge crossing the Nueces river west of Uvalde. It's possible that one span came from each of these sources.
There is also disagreement on the date of completion. Some sources mention 1908, while a recent article in the San Antonio Express-News mentions that expected renovation completion date of July 2010 will be in time for its 100th anniversary.
Records seem to indicate that the lost nearby New Braunfels Avenue bridge over the rail yard was also erected from relocated spans from the same source. The total number of spans in both bridges (at least six), is too many IMO, for a crossing at the Nueces.
Pending action before the National Register of Historic Places for inclusion gives the Hays Street Bridge a tentative reference number, 12000787. This is as of July 28, 2012.
I recently read an article in the paper regarding the 1934 built high line in New York city. The high line is being converted into to what the city is calling, " Garden in the Sky"....what an awesome idea. The garden will be open to pedestrians and cyclist. It would be great of San Antonio would follow this concept, but put the San Antonio twist on the concept. Downtown would have the River Walk, The Alamo, and our own version of the "Garden in the Sky"...call it what you like but it would be a great thing. What do you think?
This bridge has been a part of my life for 40 years. i grew up living right next door to this bridge. It was my playground, my best friend and just a place to go to sit look at the fabulous skyline and think. I did this as kid and i also did it several times as an adult. My mother grew up in the same house as i did and we have so many pictures that have this bridge as a background. I still visit this bridge even today as the reconstruction has already begun. I must admit that seeing this old friend being torn down really gave me a sad feeling. I know its going to be rebuilt probably better than before but i still have a sentimental feeling for the original bridge. But i manage to "liberate" a couple of small pieces of concrete from there as a reminder. I will say this, that stone show's no wear and looks brand new. This bridge would have lasted another 100 years.
The 1881/1910 Hays Street Bridge is a viaduct consisting of two wrought iron truss spans (one Phoenix Whipple 225-ft span, and one Pratt 130-ft span), and approximately 1000-LF of concrete approaches.
In 1910, the City of San Antonio required the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railway Co. (eventually part of Southern Pacific) to construct a viaduct over the railroad tracks at Hays Street. The railway company relocated the two truss spans from elsewhere on its lines.
Records of the Phoenix Bridge Company archived at the Hagley Library in Wilmington, Delaware show that the Whipple truss dates from 1881 and was reconstructed from one or more salvaged spans over the Nueces River west of San Antonio. These records include entries in the company’s customer index as well as copies of the 1910 repair shop drawings showing replacement joint blocks, bearing seats, and lateral bracing struts.
The Whipple truss span is a Phoenix patent design using the now rare Phoenix segmental wrought iron columns with cast-iron joint blocks. The Pratt span has Phoenix-branded components, including the floor beams. Both spans were widened in 1910 from about 16-feet to the current 25-feet.
The bridge is planned for rehabilitation as a bicycle and pedestrian facility by the City of San Antonio, using a Transportation Enhancement grant from the Texas Department of Transportation. Sparks Engineering, Inc. is the design consultant for the project. Plans and specifications were completed in November 2006 and the project is scheduled to begin construction in the spring of 2007.
Webmaster's note: The photo that was here has been incorporated into the main site.