Photography

The Jefferson Boulevard bridge in South Bend

For weeks now I’ve been sharing my photos of bridges in my Tuesday/Thursday “single frame” series. I’ve wanted to share one of the beautiful Jefferson Boulevard bridge in my hometown of South Bend. But I couldn’t choose just one. So I’m sharing a bunch of photographs of it in this post, to wrap up the series.

Jefferson Blvd. Bridge, South Bend
Yashica Electro 35 GSN, Fujicolor 200, 2012

The Jefferson Boulevard bridge was built in 1906, carrying one of downtown South Bend’s main east-west streets across the St. Joseph River and forming a gateway with the east side of South Bend.

Jefferson Blvd. Bridge, South Bend
Yashica Electro 35 GSN, Fujicolor 200, 2012

You can walk right under two of this bridge’s arches on a pedestrian trail that runs along both sides of the river.

Jefferson St. bridge
Kodak EasyShare Z730, 2009

When you do, you can see the telltale signs of the formwork that held this bridge’s concrete in place while it cured.

Jefferson St. bridge
Kodak EasyShare Z730, 2009

MIT-trained South Bend city engineer Alonzo Hammond designed this bridge. He used a cutting-edge construction technique known as the Melan arch, in which solid steel arch ribs, rather than iron rebar, were used inside the concrete.

Jefferson St. bridge
Kodak EasyShare Z730, 2009

490 feet long with four spans, with a deck 51.8 feet wide, it handled a twin-track street railway as well as vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Today the streetcar tracks are long gone. Hammond’s bridge easily handles two lanes of traffic in each direction, bracketed by sidewalks.

Jefferson Blvd. bridge from Howard Park
Minolta SR-T 101, 50mm f/1.7 MC Rokkor PF, Ferrania P30 Alpha, 2018

Hammond configured the east approach of the bridge to complement recent improvements in Howard Park. which is on the right in the photos above and below. I made the photo below from a onetime railroad trestle now used by pedestrians on the river trail system.

Jefferson St. Bridge, South Bend
Yashica Electro 35 GSN, Fujicolor 200, 2012

I’ve photographed this bridge more than any other. I enjoy its design and its setting. Every time I’m downtown in South Bend with a camera, I wind up around the bridge looking for a new angle.

Jefferson Blvd. bridge
Minolta SR-T 101, 50mm f/1.7 MC Rokkor PF, Ferrania P30 Alpha, 2018

But mostly, I like to shoot the bridge up close to consider its delightful details.

Jefferson St. bridge
Kodak EasyShare Z730, 2009

Sometimes the morning or afternoon light plays beautifully on its sides.

Jefferson St. bridge
Kodak EasyShare Z730, 2009

I made this photo from the LaSalle Street bridge one block to the north. It shows the orange di Suvero sculpture and shallow man-made waterfalls. It also shows part of Island Park on the right.

Jefferson St. bridge
Kodak EasyShare Z730, 2009

I made a similar photograph the first time I shot this bridge, on a downtown photo walk in 1988. At that time, the bridge was a dull brownish gray. It underwent a restoration in 2003-4 that strengthened it to serve another generation, and brought it to its current creamy hue.

Jefferson Blvd. bridge, South Bend, 1988
Kodak VR35 K40, Kodak color film, 1988

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14 thoughts on “The Jefferson Boulevard bridge in South Bend

  1. Now *this* is a beautiful bridge. And how amazing that a bridge built in 1906 would end up wide enough for four modern lanes of traffic.

  2. analogphotobug says:

    I saw a lovely old bypassed bridge on Sunday. Had to go back and photograph it. But it’s film so it will be a while before I can post Old Colorado HWY 52.

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