4 votes

Lake Park Steel Arch Bridge


Deck and West Railing

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in July 2008


BH Photo #116373


The Significance of Lake Park and the Lake Park Bridges 

Written by J.R. Manning

The west shore of Lake Michigan features a tall bluff, varying in height but as high as 70 meters, that overlooks the lake. In the mid 1800's, the civic leaders of Milwaukee recognized the importance of preserving public space in the form of parks and began to buy up land throughout the area. One of the spots was the area that is now known as Lake Park. The significance of this site is nothing new, burial mounds of Native Americans were found here.

In 1854, the U.S. Lighthouse service built the North Point Lighthouse on a two acre plat that divided the planned park area. The lighthouse was moved back 100 feet because of bluff erosion, a problem that continues to this day. The city and the federal government came to an agreement in 1893 that allowed the park to be developed as planned, and the lighthouse continued in operation until is was decommissioned in 1994. The lighthouse is now a part of the park and is being restored.

The Milwaukee Park Commission contracted with Frederick Law Olmsted, the noted landscape architect, to design Lake Park. (Ohlmstead is remembered for designing New York's Central Park, the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the grounds of the Vanderbilt's Biltmore Mansion.)

This bridge was built in 1893. The Lion Bridges, that span the ravines that frame the lighthouse, were completed in 1897. The footbridge was built in 1905 and the Grand Staircase in 1908.

You can learn more about this wonderful park and the structures of it at the website of the Lake Park Friends.


Bridge over Ravine on Lake Park Drive in Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin
Open to pedestrians
Built 1893; Closed to vehicular traffic in 1964
Steel deck arch bridge. Composed of 6 50 foot steel arch ribs with the front ribs being ornamented by a cast iron cover.
Length of largest span: 50.0 ft.
Deck width: 26.0 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places
Approximate latitude, longitude
+43.07100, -87.86800   (decimal degrees)
43°04'16" N, 87°52'05" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/429332/4769064 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Milwaukee OE E
Inventory number
BH 36787 (Bridgehunter.com ID)


19th Century (7,557)
Arch (12,094)
Built 1893 (214)
Built during 1890s (2,982)
Deck arch (11,332)
Milwaukee County, Wisconsin (152)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin (100)
NR-listed (2,960)
Open to pedestrians (4,207)
Owned by county (20,778)
Span length 50-75 feet (10,073)
Steel arch (376)
Wisconsin (1,468)

Update Log 

  • August 18, 2011: Updated by Nathan Holth: Added Technical Data
  • April 18, 2009: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • July 2, 2008: Essay added by J.R. Manning



Lake Park Steel Arch Bridge
Posted April 18, 2009, by J.R. Manning (thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

Yesterday was one of those perfect Spring days for hunting bridges so I revisited Lake Park.