02-26-18

Happy 100th Birthday, Detroit-Superior Bridge!

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The Detroit-Superior Bridge turns 100 this year. The structure, also known as the Veterans Memorial Bridge, was the largest two-level steel and concrete reinforced bridge in the world when it was completed in 1918.

1946Michael Schwartz Library, Cleveland State University.

Thousands of people drive across the street level of the bridge every day. But just below, the former streetcar level of the bridge remains one of Cleveland’s hidden gems. Streetcar service was discontinued in 1955 and the lower level bridge has been waiting to be discovered ever since. The Cuyahoga County Engineering Department opens the lower level of the bridge for tours periodically, including in September of 2017 for Sparx in the City, which drew record crowds to this beautiful and underutilized space. The Ingenuity Fest has taken place on the lower level of the bridge. And CUDC staff and students have fond memories of our first experiments on the bridge in the Fall of 2009.

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In 2012, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) awarded a planning grant to explore the possibility of re-opening the lower level of the bridge as a public space and bike/pedestrian connection.

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The CUDC collaborated with Environmental Design Group, Levin Ventures, and a host of other partners to explore design alternatives that would capitalize on the uniquely beautiful attributes of the streetcar-level space.

11_13_12 night center spanCredit Jeff Kruth, CUDC

In the same year, the Cleveland Design Competition focused on the streetcar level of the bridge and attracted 200 entries from designers around the world, suggesting visionary ideas for the future reuse of the space.

The bridge connects Public Square to Ohio City and could also provide important linkages to Irishtown Bend and Canal Basin Park–two exciting and long-awaited new public spaces along the Cuyahoga River. In celebration of the bridge’s birthday, interest is once again percolating about the streetcar level space. Please watch the Bridge Project Facebook page for updates and announcements of future activities.

 

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