Chicago has the most movable bridges of any city in the world
CHICAGO – If you live or work in the city of Chicago, you might take them for granted.
You drive on it or step on it every day.
But did you know that Chicago has the most moving bridges of any city in the world?
Every spring and fall we are reminded of how much of a headache they can be when it’s lift season, but also about how beautiful and architecturally marvelous they are – as people stop what they do and enjoy.
When Chicago’s downtown bridges go up – like it or not – cars and pedestrians are forced to stop and watch.
Chicago lift season runs between April and June – two days a week – Wednesday and Saturday mornings.
From street level, people stop to take photos and gaze in awe as they see firsthand what an incredible architectural feast it is.
But if you descend you can observe the creaking of the gears and can’t help but marvel as they turn and the bridges rise.
“I started when I was 28, and now I’m 62,” said bridgeman George Brown.
Brown has been a bridge operator for over 30 years. He travels from bridge to bridge to move the process forward.
In the 1800s, bridgemen lived on the bridges in small houses. This is no longer the case.
Now there are crews of bridge operators, machinists, and electricians working together to make sure these recreational boats make their safe journey to Lake Michigan.
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Chicago is also home to what is known as the most number of Bascule Bridges.
Not only do these drawbridges add to the city’s world-famous architecture, they often play a part in the movies.
You can see them in Batman and Backdraft – Just to name a few.
Brown was there for all of them and remembers helping out in the Keanu Reeves movie, Chain reaction.
“When Keanu Reeves was walking up Michican Avenue, I was on the lower level operating the doors,” Brown said.
But it’s probably this most recent image of these bridges that people still remember.
It’s something most Chicagoans have never seen in their lifetime: all the bridges raised at once during the civil unrest of 2020.
The city used the bridges to control riots, crowds, and looting in the city center.
For the teams behind the regular season lifts, safety is always a priority, but they also take great pride in knowing that the work they do has become an attraction that allows tourists and locals to marvel at their beauty.