2 votes

Summer Street Bridge


Summer Street Bridge. Draw Span Moves Toward Viewer On Tracks Visible At Center Of Photograph

Photo taken for the Historic American Engineering Record

View photos at Library of Congress

BH Photo #228198

Street View 


The Summer St. bridge is a rare movable type of bridge known as a retractile draw, in which the moving span is pulled diagonally away from the navigable channel on several sets of rails. Only four of these have been identified in the country, two of which are on Summer St. in Boston. The form is thought to have been invented by T. Willis Pratt in the 1860's. This bridge is a double retractile: parallel spans pull away from the center in opposite directions. Despite its deteriorating condition, the bridge is the center element of the rich Fort Point Channel Bridge District. / The Summer Street Retractile Bridge is the only known surviving electrically-operated, paired-leaf oblique retractile drawbridge. Despite its poor condition and loss of much of its operating equipment and auxiliary structures (gates, Tender's House, and pedestrian waiting shelters), several of the early components (superstructure, retractile rails, wheels, and operating machinery on the south side) remain. The Summer Street Retractile Bridge is one of five surviving movable bridges located in the proposed Fort Point Channel Historic District. It is one of eight known remaining nineteenth-century movable bridges in the Massachusetts Highway Department Historic Bridge Survey.

-- Historic American Engineering Record

Bridge is no longer movable.


Retractile deck plate girder bridge over Fort Point Channel on Summer Street
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Open to traffic
Built 1899, Rehabilitated 1918, 1952, 1959, 1967, 1990, and 1998.
- Berlin Iron Bridge Co. of East Berlin, Connecticut
Length of largest span: 89.6 ft.
Total length: 502.0 ft.
Deck width: 32.2 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Summer Street over Fort Point Channel Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.35092, -71.05174   (decimal degrees)
42°21'03" N, 71°03'06" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
19/331013/4690778 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Boston South
Average daily traffic (as of 2016)
Inventory numbers
MA B16031 (Massachusetts bridge number)
BH 49469 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of August 2018)
Overall condition: Fair
Superstructure condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 57.9 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • October 1, 2020: New photos from Nick Boppel
  • March 21, 2012: Posted HAER photos
  • August 31, 2011: Added by Luke Harden


  • Luke
  • HAER MA-41 - Summer Street Retractile Bridge, Spanning Fort Point Channel at Summer Street, Boston, Suffolk County, MA
  • Historicbridges.org - by Nathan Holth
  • Nick Boppel - nickboppel01 [at] gmail [dot] com


Summer Street over Fort Point Channel Bridge
Posted November 1, 2016, by Clark Vance (cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com)

In November 1916 a streetcar went off this partially opened bridge, killing 46 people.


Story includes animation of the unusual way the bridge opens.