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Monroe Street Bridge

         Monroe Street Bridge, Intersection of W. Spokane Falls and N. Monroe Street

Historic Name/Common Name Monroe Street Bridge
Date Built 1910-1911 & 2003-2005
Architect/Builder Kirtland Cutter & Karl Malmgreen (architects) and Ralston/McCarthy/Kennedy/Grieve/Cutter (engineers)
Date Listed on the Spokane Register October 22, 1990
Date Listed on the National Register May 13, 1976
Historic District -
Neighborhood Riverside

Statement of Significance

Spanning the Spokane River Gorge just below the Spokane Falls, the Monroe Street Bridge is a city landmark.  When the structure was completed in 1911, the 281-foot concrete central span was the largest in the United States, edging out Cleveland’s Rocky River Bridge by a foot, and the third longest in the world.  The design process for the bridge began in 1909.  Building the grand triple-arched bridge was an arduous task.  Laborers hired by the city (fully half the eventual cost of $535,000 went to wages) dangled above the rapids below on towers and cables, working to demolish the old steel bridge, constructed in 1891, and build cribbinMonroe Street Bridge, 1911g for the new one.  Shortly after demolition began, fill on the south bank collapsed, leading to the collapse of the old bridge.  As the new bridge was being constructed, a violent windstorm destroyed weeks’ worth of labor on the central arch.  City engineer J. C. Ralston, with assistance from Morton McCarthy (who designed the ill-fated Tacoma Narrows Bridge), J. F. Greene, and P. F. Kennedy, designed the structure.  The design for the superstructure was prepared by Spokane’s most celebrated firm of architects, Cutter and Malmgren.  It reflects the city’s pride in its pioneer heritage, with its western decorative motifs, including chain-shaped concrete ornamentation on the railings, and four “covered wagoMonroe Street Bridge opening ceremony, 1911 (Museum of Arts & Culture, L93-17.37)n”-shaped pavilions adorned with cast-concrete bison skulls.  Residents of Spokane, proud as they were of the grand new bridge, had to wait nearly 60 years to see it unobstructed.  In 1914, just three years after it was built, the Union Pacific Railway built a trestle across and above it.  The trestle was removed in 1973, in conjunction with preparations for the 1974 World’s Fair held in Spokane.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, all but the central span of the bridge was demolished and completely reconstructed starting in 2003. The bridge reopened in September 2005. 

To view a slideshow of the reconstruction and opening of the bridge, click here.

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Last Date Modified: August 16, 2006