Bridgeport Bridge Kitchener
Greetings! Welcome to the WRX Property group website and blog. Today we’ll be completing our 3-part miniseries on a set of important, interesting bridges that were built in the Waterloo Region in the early twentieth century yet remain very much in use today.
If you came here looking for discussion on the popular, four player, standard-52-card-deck-using card game, you’ll have to look elsewhere: today we’re talking about real, live bridges (and by alive we mean alive in an architectural sense).
Bridges, Bridges, Bridges
Considering how often we use bridges, it can be easy to forget the important role they play in our lives (particularly in a place like the Waterloo Region, in which rivers and creeks frequently run through and between population centres).
The bridges we’ve been exploring have unique pre-histories dating back as far as the early nineteenth century.
A Family of Four
Conceived as a set of 4 bridges crossing the Grand River, there were Freeport Bridge (found in southeast Kitchener, on King Street); Grand River Bridge (in Caledonia); Main Street Bridge (in southern Cambridge [Galt], linking two sides of its downtown core); and Bridgeport Bridge (in eastern Kitchener, and the main subject of today’s article).
We’ve covered Freeport and Main Street, but we won’t be covering Caledonia Bridge for the time being as it’s a bit too far from the Waterloo/Wellington area in which we primarily operate.
Bridgeport Bridge is the youngest of the family, but not by much: the entire project was completed within a decade. Bridgeport Bridge was erected in its current form in 1934. It consists of five spans, each of which measures 25.1 metres, making for an overall length of 126 metres.
We’ll get more into how impressive the bridge was (and remains to this day) but first, let’s explore the history: of the bridge itself, and the land around it.
So: whence the name ‘Bridgeport’ in Bridgeport Bridge? As is often the case when looking at an old structure, there’s an interesting story here (as you’ll hopefully agree there were with the Freeport and Main Street Bridges!).
Just as Doon was once its own, distinct entity, but was absorbed into Kitchener (much of the old Doon village is now Kitchener’s rapidly-growing southern suburban area), so too was Bridgeport a separate settlement, on the east side of the Grand River.
There’s actually an entire history of this little region that we’ll be exploring in more detail soon, in an article all its own. The history of Bridgeport (the settlement, not the bridge) is both sordid and splendid, but all of that will come in time.
In short: Bridgeport was a small settlement that ended up hosting a few popular (and important) sites, and the need arose for better connections to the west side of the Grand River. Enter: Bridgeport Bridge. Okay… enough history; on to the bridge!
A Bridge Over (Un)Troubled Waters
Much like Freeport Bridge (the oldest of the Bridge Family) was built at (or near) the same spot that had been used for decades prior, so too was Bridgeport Bridge designed to cross the river at a time-tested locale.
Back in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, there was actually a small island in the Grand River near the current location of Bridgeport Bridge.
At first, in 1847, there was a wooden bridge connecting the island to the mainland; then in 1897, this bridge was upgraded to steel truss. The crossing from the east side of the island was narrow enough that only a pony truss bridge was required.
For those wondering, a truss bridge is simply a bridge with interconnected units supporting the main portion (the deck) of the bridge. They’re recognizable by the gridwork supporting beams (often steel, often taking the form of large triangles).
A pony truss is smaller, and has support beams that don’t join overtop.
A Whole New Bridge
In 1934, two large projects took place. First, the waters around the island its larger trees was diverted, making the river one solid stream as opposed to the main body and a narrow channel.
Next, construction on the Bridgeport Bridge itself got underway. Its cost was $65,000.74 (roughly $1.25 million today – a pretty good deal, if you ask me), and the design is credited to one D. J. Emrey, who took inspiration from the earlier Freeport and Main Street Bridges, also in the Region.
Though you can’t see the man himself, the following picture is from the 1953 ribbon cutting ceremony at the D. J. Emrey Bridge in New Hamburg. As the saying goes, if you build enough bridges, eventually somebody will name one after you.
A Long Time, and a Long Bridge
This set of bridges is historic, yes, but they are also impressive achievements that, by some measures, remain unmatched today. Indeed, the Grand River Bridge in Caledonia sits comfortably in first-place when it comes to number of spans (9 spans).
Second place belongs to Freeport Bridge (7 spans), with our Bridgeport Bridge not far behind with 5. These concrete arch bridges are unique in all of Canada – most bridges of this variety have fewer than 3 spans.
After construction was completed, the construction company (Storms Construction Company) went so far as to hold an outdoor dance-off on the newly-completed Bridgeport Bridge.
As it was the mid-1930s, in the midst of the Great Depression, it’s doubtful that any flossing or dabbing was involved, but one is welcome to imagine whatever one chooses to imagine.
In any case, a splendid time was had by all, and the Bridgeport community was overjoyed to have such a beautiful – and functional – bridge at their disposal.
Bridgeport Bridge in 1947, a mere 13 years old. Sources agree it was a very calm and composed teenager and threw very few (if any) tantrums
Bridgeport Bridge currently has seven reviews on Google Maps: all seven gave it a full 5 stars. That’s not too shabby for a bridge that predates Google Maps by about 70 years.
Technically, all Bridgeport does is attach east to west; it provides a way across the Grand River without getting your feet wet. But in reality, it’s so much more than that.
There are the lovely views it provides of the river and surrounding land; not to mention the lovely construction of the bridge itself. Thankfully, a 2009 rehabilitation project helped ensure we’ll have the Bridgeport Bridge for many years to come (more info here).
Bridgeport Bridge is part of the Region’s history, and through it, we can learn a little more about the history of this increasingly forward-thinking Region that we call home.
It’s great to look forward, but it’s good to look back once in a while, too (especially if you’re backing up a car – then it’s vital). Contact us if you’ve got any real estate questions – we’re always happy to help!
Written by Will Kummer