Michigan Avenue Bridgehouse

The Chicago tourist activities have been continuing.  Another local attraction I have never been to – and this one has no excuse since I have known about it for ages and it is visible from my window! – is the bridgehouse for the Michigan Avenue bridge.

Chicago has a large number of movable bridges across the Chicago and Calumet rivers.  A large number of them are bascule bridges.  For those of you not familiar with French descriptions of bridges, bascule bridges are counterbalanced and rotate out of the way using very little power due to the excellent balance.  (Bascule is French for seesaw.)

The museum is in the tower at one end of the bridge.  It is a pretty small museum but it provides access to the mechanisms that move the bridge.  This is something that interests an engineering type like me.  I think they could have made things a little better though.  There is very little lighting down there so it is hard to make out all of the parts of the machinery.  They could also provide a bit more of a guide to this.  As a photographer, the amount of fencing in the way is a nuisance but I doubt there is much they could do about that.

As a result of the relatively limited nature of the bridge, the rest of the museum is a history of Chicago, its rivers and the water supply.  It certainly provides more to look at and is quite worth a look.  There are also some slightly different views of the river.  Since it was only $4 to get in, I think it was worth a look.  Now to see how I can make some suggestions to them about improvements.

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