Monroe Street Bridge

Monroe Street Bridge
Monroe Street Bridge
Crosses Spokane River
Locale Spokane, Washington
Design Reinforced concrete deck arch bridge
Total length 896 ft (273 m)
Width 50 ft (15 m) wide roadway and 9 ft (2.7 m) wide sidewalks
Longest span 281 ft (85.6 m)
Opened 1911
Coordinates 47°39′38″N 117°25′36″W / 47.6605389°N 117.42678881°W / 47.6605389; -117.42678881Coordinates: 47°39′38″N 117°25′36″W / 47.6605389°N 117.42678881°W / 47.6605389; -117.42678881

Monroe Street Bridge is a deck arch bridge that spans the Spokane River in Spokane, Washington. It was built in 1911 by the city of Spokane and was designed by John Chester Ralston and Kirtland Kelsey Cutter. At the time of completion it was the largest concrete-arch bridge in the United States and the third longest in the world.

The current bridge is actually the third bridge in this location. The first bridge, a rather rickety wooden structure, was built in 1889. The bridge was first closed due to arguments in the city over rites of passage and ownership. It then burned down in 1890 and then replaced with a steel bridge. The second bridge vibrated badly and had a noticeable dip in the center. A consultant from the Good Roads Movement considered the bridge unsafe in 1905. The design of the third bridge was largely copied from the Rocky River Bridge in Cleveland, Ohio, but was built one foot longer to make it the largest concrete arch in the United States at the time. The bridge was designed with ornamental features such as bison skulls, covered pavilions, and a chain-link railing motif. The bison skull was an inspiration of Patrick C. Shine who found it in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada, in the early 1900s.

The bridge underwent changes in 1925 and in 1934, and submitted to the modernization of Spokane. The pavilion lamps were changed to electric lighting in ’25 and the electric car railways were removed from the bridge in ‘34. The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. By the 1990s, the current bridge had deteriorated to the point where rebuilding it was necessary. In January 2003, the bridge was closed for restoration, dismantled down to the central arch, and rebuilt faithfully to the original appearance. The bridge was reopened in 2005 and continues to provide excellent views of Spokane Falls.

Falsework centering in the center arch of Monroe Street Bridge, Spokane, Washington. 1911.
Monroe Street Bridge under renovation in 2003


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