Wells Street Bridge

Chicago, IL | May 04, 2013
Wells Street Bridge

The Wells Street Bridge over the Chicago River connects the Merchandise Mart and the Near North Side neighborhood with the Chicago loop. This double-decker, double-leaf bascule bridge carries vehicular and pedestrian traffic on its lower deck and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) brown and purple line trains on its upper deck. The bridge carries four hundred elevated trains and nine thousand vehicles each day and is similar to its near-twin, the Lake Street Bridge immediately down river.

The first known bridge at this location was a wooden swing bridge which was destroyed in a flood in 1849. This bridge was rebuilt in 1856 and again in 1862. The bridge was destroyed again by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. The next year, an iron swing bridge was built as a replacement, and in 1896 the upper deck was added. The current bascule version of this bridge was built in 1922 and rebuilt in two phases during 2012 to 2013 renovation. The two new leaves were built off-site, brought up the river by barge and installed in place. The renovation project was completed on November 21, 2013.

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Timeline

Log of acoustic events during this field recording:

0:00
Distant traffic and brake squeals
0:36
Truck drives off suddenly
0:45
Traffic speeding by, footsteps, then voices
1:23
Elevated train passes over the upper level of the Wells Street bridge
2:00
Second elevated train passes over the Wells Street bridge
2:26
Traffic speeding by, peoples voices, conversation
2:56
Relative quiet, a truck backing up somewhere
3:16
Someone blows his nose, then traffic and more talking
4:12
A truck pulls up and stops its engine
4:30
The elevated train goes by in the distance, more automobile traffic
5:10
A distant Amtrak train whistle
5:33
Door slams loudly
5:53
An elevated train lumbers over the Wells Street bridge
6:20
Traffic picks up, cars speeding by
7:41
A big truck starts off suddenly
7:51
A motorcycle speeds by
8:18
Brakes squealing
8:30
Elevated train going by slowly over the bridge
8:52
A motorcycle goes by
9:18
Honking, traffic speeding by
9:30
Elevated train rumbles overhead
10:02
A distant emergency vehicle slowly getting closer
10:26
A car honks
10:36
A truck takes off, fire engine sirens continue closer
11:10
A fire engine races by
11:42
Groovy music playing nearby
12:02
Some new people talking
12:14
Car honks, distant fire engine
12:42
Guys laughing, talking, fire engine getting closer
13:02
Hammering starts, fire engine getting closer
13:30
A fire engine roars right by
13:50
A fire engine horn blast echos, the sound dies away

Chicago Loop Map

Selection from the AAA 1972 map of the Chicago Loop including the Wells Street Bridge

wells-street-bridge-chicago-map