Two weeks ago I posted about getting stopped at the Wisconsin Avenue drawbridge in downtown Milwaukee. I was able to illustrate that blog post with two photographs of bridge houses that I found online, but those were basically the ONLY photos I could find online.
Milwaukee’s bridge houses are so full of character that I thought it was a shame not to include some of them. I promised to follow up with photos in a later post, so this morning I took a walk along Milwaukee’s Riverwalk and snapped several pictures with my own camera.
Here’s a map of the Milwaukee River for reference.
The Milwaukee River is the vertical blue strip. I started at the farthest south bridge in downtown proper, the Clybourn Street Bridge. Clybourn is the first street north of the strip of freeway (I-94/I-794) running horizontally across the map. See it? Okay, so I’m going to walk north from Clybourn and document the bridge houses all the way up to my favorite pair of bridge houses on the Cherry Street Bridge. The Cherry Street Bridge is the diagonal line across the Milwaukee River right where it starts to bend to the east, just under the words “To Bronzeville.”
Here is the Clybourn Street bridge house. Note the bell up inside the alcove. Most (and probably all) of the bridge houses have bells.
Next, the Wisconsin Avenue bridge house. This is the bridge where I was stopped for river traffic to pass two weeks ago.
The next bridge north of Wisconsin Avenue is the Wells Street bridge. This picture is taken from Wisconsin Avenue looking north. The Wells Street bridge house is in the center of the picture, on the lefthand side of the bridge.
The Wells Street bridge house is kind of a nothing, in my opinion. Here’s a second view, below. I don’t care for the Chippendale thing that frames the bell on top.
On closer examination, though, I guess the dentilwork on the cornice may be meant to echo the pediment of the old Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Co. building, now the Milwaukee Rep’s Quadracci Powerhouse Theater. Click on the first photo above (the one with the red telephone booth) to isolate the photo itself from the blog text, and then click on the photo again to enlarge it. See the classical brick building across the river from the bridge house, to the right? Its cornice and triangular pediment seem to be trimmed with a similar row of blocks.
The next bridge north of Wells Street is Kilbourn Avenue. The Kilbourn Avenue bridge has four bridge houses, one at each corner. You can see three in the first photo below, and the fourth in the second. These bridge houses look like fortresses to me, which is a good thing in case the theatre district ever needs defending 🙂
Next is the State Street bridge. Like the Cherry Street bridge (still to come), the State Street bridge has two bridge houses kitty-corner from each other (Milwaukee-speak for catercorner, or catty-corner, i.e., across from each other diagonally).
The next bridge north is Juneau Avenue, which just recently reopened to traffic after being updated. Its bridge house is below.
If the quality of the Juneau Avenue photo seems different from the other photos in this post, that’s because I took that picture today with my iPod Touch. In yesterday’s post—in other words, the whole rest of this post except these two paragraphs—I wrote: “I skipped McKinley, which is a new bridge built since the old freeway spur was torn down. I don’t think it has a bridge house (but I’ll double check next time I cross it).”
Guess what? McKinley Avenue does have a bridge house. It’s the one I identified in yesterday’s post as the Juneau Avenue bridge house. I walked right past the Juneau Avenue bridge house yesterday, and even smiled a hello to the city workers who were cleaning/painting it, but didn’t recognize that I was looking STRAIGHT AT the Juneau Avenue bridge house because of the maintenance being done. I saw the workers and didn’t notice the building! Anyway, this afternoon when I drove across the McKinley Avenue bridge looking to see if it had a bridge house, I realized immediately what I’d done.
So here is the McKinley Avenue bridge house, now correctly identified 🙂
Which brings us, at last, to Cherry Street and my favorite pair of bridge houses. According to the dedication plaque, the Cherry Street bridge houses date from 1940, but don’t they look very Art Deco?
The Cherry Street bridge house has both horns and a bell.
I love this whimsical “frame” for the discharge pipes across the way.
This part of the old bascule bridges freaks me out a little: the “pavement” is a see-through metal grid. Can you make out the Milwaukee River down below the street?
And finally, one last look at the Cherry Street bridge house from the other side of the river, looking back toward downtown, although at a slightly westward angle (see the map above).
I guess both the Cherry Street bridge and its bridge house are showing their age and looking a little tired. But they are still beautiful to me!