Raised Bridges

After several years of putting the early Chicago River bridge raises in my calendar to “keep an eye on,” I finally had a day where my schedule, the weather and boats all cooperated.

I’d been wanting to shoot images of boats traveling under bridges for quite some time, and finally had the chance to make the trek to the river last week to watch. Slowly — very slowly — boats traveled along the river getting help from the Bridge Division of the Chicago Department of Transportation. The process reminded me a lot of ships traveling through the Panama Canal; it was a very slow moving process, but very fun to observe. (I often tell people watching boats go through the Panama Canal is the most exciting boring thing you’ll see in your lifetime)

I had set the day aside to head downtown to watch the bridge lifts, but I’m pretty sure most (if not all) of the motorists downtown were caught off-gaurd. When the lights would starting blinking and the bells would start making their noise, motorists would mash the gas in hopes of making it through the gates before they were stopped. On more than one occasion, I witnessed a brief shouting match between a cab driver and a bridge attendant.

It made for an enjoyable, but long, day. My quest started at half-past nine in the morning, and at two o’clock I made my way back towards home. Running a few errands later in the day, I heard the radio mention the last bridge was just on its wait down, snarling traffic on Lakeshore Drive. Hearing this, I found myself smiling knowing the dozen or so boats made it to their home for the summer.

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