Feb 24, 2010

8th Street Bridge


When opened for traffic on November 17, 1913, with seventeen spans, the Albertus L. Meyers Bridge, then known as the Eighth Street Bridge, was the longest and highest reinforced concrete arch bridge in the world.
The Lehigh Valley Transit Company organized the Allentown Bridge Company in 1911 for the sole purpose of building the bridge. The bridge was designed by the engineering firm of B.H. Davis and built by McArthur Brothers of New York City. Costing in excess of $500,000, construction of the bridge required 29,500 cubic yards of concrete and 1.1 million pounds of metal reinforcing rods.
The structure operated as a toll bridge from its November 17, 1913 opening until the 1950s, at which time the toll was five cents for an automobile. The concrete standards that once supported the trolley wire are still standing on the bridge to this day.*

This iconic bridge is a monument to our industrial history; epicenter of both the cement and steel industries. Unfortunately, bridge is suffering. Weeds and undergrowth are being allowed to penetrate the roadbed. Spalling concrete is not being replaced, submitting the reinforcing rods to rust.

Harry C. Trexler, founding member of the Transit Company and Lehigh Portland Cement Co., was a principle player in the construction of this bridge. General Trexler's gravesite, in Fairview Cemetery on Lehigh Street, affords unique views of the bridge and center city Allentown.
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albertus_L._Meyers_Bridge

reprinted from Aug. 6, 2008

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Longest and highest reinforced concrete bridge in the world at the time, huh?

No one ever taught me that in public school in Allentown growing up.

I also did not know it was a toll road once upon a time.

Thank you, Mr. Molovinsky.

Third Baseman said...

It was once a toll road?

Do you really want to give Ed Pawlowski that idea?

They would probably collect the tolls and spend it on office furniture instead of repairing the bridge.

Looking To Escape said...

Unfortunately, bridge is suffering. Weeds and undergrowth are being allowed to penetrate the roadbed. Spalling concrete is not being replaced, submitting the reinforcing rods to rust.
.
The repair or replacement of this bridge should have been a shovel ready project.

Anonymous said...

Shovel ready.

Ha Ha.

Maybe for Obama's 2nd term.

Ha Ha.

Bill said...

I had known these facts but it is still amazing. We should care for that bridge as that type of structure would never be replicated. Thanks for posting this piece.

Anonymous said...

MM - thank you for this post. Being a person who considers Allentown (and still admits to) as their home town, I was unaware of this information.

I read your posts and remember the "old" Allentown fondly.

p.s. I think I went to Jefferson school with you. Do you remember a Miss Adams (2nd grade) or Mr. Ruth (5th)

michael molovinsky said...

the only name i remember is from lehigh parkway elementary, at that time from kindergarden through 2nd grade. there was a mrs. henderson, who also lived in the parkway. i remember her taking the class to her house and showing us a nest with baby birds on her second floor window sill. at that time the school had a large aquarium in the wall between the hallway and one classroom. my significant other would end up teaching in the same classroom

Anonymous said...

Nice article and a great photo.

BTW- $500,000 in 1912 would be eqivilent to about $10,000,000 in today's dollars. It would seem to me that a little maintenance is in order since the next question is "who the hell could afford to rebuild such a structure?"

Voice of Reason

Jessica Lenard said...

loved the photos and captions - both color and black and white