Guest Post – Wells St. Bridge Reconstruction as seen by Tour Through A Lens

I first met Teresa as I meet all excellent people – on Twitter. We became friends. Teresa also does tours, PHOTOGRAPHY tours. Neat. She came on my Pedway Tour and I went on her photography tour. I learned so much and we had such a good time. Teresa is a beautiful photographer and happened to be a witness at an amazing event which you will see played out below!

If you want to learn more about Tour Through A Lens, click here. Or you can email Teresa at If you want to see the photos in all their glory, click here for Teresa’s Flickr. And now, I am pleased to present Teresa at Tour Through a Lens:

Witness To A Moment

Imagine yourself standing in front of the guard. You know the one. Red and black. Tall furry hat. Chin strap. No expression. You’re mesmerized by him. Now, imagine it’s time for the infamous “Changing the Guard”, not every day, but every 100 years. And at that moment, you are there to witness it.Or what about the number of people who hope to live to see the Corpse Flower bloom but once in its lifetime, and you happen to be in California on just that day. Or any number of ‘once in a…’ celestial occurrences you hope to see at least one.

How many times in any one person’s life do they have the opportunity to see a change in history? Are they even aware that what they’re seeing is history?

 Now imagine yourself standing at the foot of the Wells Street bridge in Chicago watching a number of construction workers moving about. You heard something on the news about bridge work being done. You stand and watch. Your imagination has taken you to where I stood on Saturday, March 2, 2013.



 What’s different about the events above and this day is that I had no idea that I was about to witness a historic event. This one day, I had the opportunity to watch the preparation and removal of a dual-purpose bridge – formally, a Chicago-style bascule bridge – that had carried both cars and elevated trains into and out of the Chicago loop for nearly 100 years. Me.

 In all honesty, it was a freezing cold day and I had not intended on doing more than take a few photos at the conclusion of a morning photowalk I had participated in. It wasn’t until I began to watch the various layers of work being done on the bridge and see the potential for photos that I and another photo friend decided to hang out for a while. Asking a worker passing by, we were told the removal would be in a few hours. The cool part: He acknowledged that the workers were aware of the history they were making that week.

The new bridge waiting to be put into place.

The new bridge waiting to be put into place.

We decided to stay. I thought, not many other people are out here, aside from those walking around the downtown on other business who stopped to snap a quick photo on their phone, or a random photographer with a tripod to capture a few key shots, or some media outlets to capture “scene” for their nightly news cast. This event needed to be documented. And I was one of the few lucky enough to be there. Before I knew it, a few hours in the below-freezing temperatures turned into a 12-hour day, into night, of documenting history.

 To this point, I still hadn’t grasped the magnitude of what was happening. It was a bridge. Being replaced. Thousands of people have passed over this bridge every day, most not even thinking about the bridge, myself included. What’s the big deal? Then, I found myself standing next to a structural engineer who showed up to snap a couple of photos for his own purpose. He told me the method being used to remove the bridge via barge up the Chicago River was a historic first-time and no one was certain it would work.


Raising the barge to catch the bridge

It was then that I began to think about how the hard work of Chicago’s early steelworkers put this bridge into place without today’s technology.


Today’s workers on yesterday’s work.

On this day, their bridge, that transported us for 91 years, was being slowly and skillfully taken apart and removed to usher in the next era of commuters and tourists. I was there…to see a moment in time between the past near 100 years and the next. Me. How awesome to think about it.

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Did you miss this moment in time? The remainder of the bridge will be replaced over a second nine-day period, beginning April 26, 2013. While you may not be able to stay for the entire event, take a moment to stop, see the men at work and think about those men 91 years ago. And if you see me out there, say “Hello!”.



3 thoughts on “Guest Post – Wells St. Bridge Reconstruction as seen by Tour Through A Lens

  1. I love how BL Duke points out that moving the scrap metal from the old bridge via a barge is more environmentally friendly rather than doing it via rail car.

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