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Chicago Avenue Bridge
Photograph: CC/Wikimedia Commons/David Wilson

The city is trying to give away the Chicago Avenue Bridge

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

Want to own a very large and unwieldy piece of Chicago history? According to a public notice that was posted earlier this month, the city is trying to find someone to take the Chicago Avenue Bridge off of its hands. If you can pick up the bridge from its current location and move it to a new place without damaging the historic structure, the city will let you have it free of charge. 

Originally built in 1914, the bascule bridge that spans the Chicago River is made up two section that can be raised to allow large boats to pass through the waterway. According to, the Chicago Avenue Bridge was the first in the city to include a permanent concrete bridge tender house, where the person responsible for raising the bridge's two sections could operate the two electric motors that were used to raise either side of the structure.

While plans for the replacement of the Chicago Avenue Bridge have yet to be officially announced, the CEO of a new riverfront development referenced a plan to widen the heavily trafficked bridge in an interview with the Sun-Times last September. The city's notice confirms that whoever decides to take the existing bridge will need to work “in coordination with the bridge replacement project schedule.”

If you or someone you know wants to become the custodian of a gigantic, historic bridge, you'll need to “send a letter, along with funding means, location of bridge placement, means of moving structure and timetable for move” to the Chicago Department of Transportation Division of Engineering. Proposals must be received by July 13, so we'll likely find out who is rich enough to move this bridge sometime after that date. Maybe Elon Musk can find a way to integrate it into his O'Hare express train project?

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