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Bridges Spanning Lake Union
HistoryLink.org Essay 10212
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Four bridges span the waterway within Lake Union's perimeter.
The Fremont Bridge crosses the Lake Washington Ship Canal between the
neighborhood of Fremont and the west side of Lake Union at the base of
Queen Anne Hill. It opened to traffic on June 15, 1917, and was
designated a City of Seattle landmark on December 28, 1981.
The University Bridge also spans the Lake Washington Ship Canal,
connecting the University District with Eastlake. It opened to traffic
on July 1, 1919.
Both the Fremont and the University bridges are bascule bridges with
counterweight balancing and cantilevered leafs (the sections of roadway
that raise and lower). Both open frequently to allow facilitate boat
traffic through the waterway. In 1982 both were added to the National
Register of Historic Places.
The George Washington Memorial Bridge, commonly known as the Aurora
Bridge, was dedicated on February 22, 1932. The nearly 3,000-foot, steel
cantilever structure spans Lake Union between the Fremont and Queen
Anne neighborhoods and completed the final link of the Pacific Coast
Highway (later designated US 99, and later still, decommissioned to SR
99) from Canada to Mexico. Dominating the view north from South Lake
Union, the bridge was a symbol of modernity and the first major highway
bridge built in Seattle. On December 28, 1981 the Seattle Landmarks
Preservation Board designated the bridge an historic landmark.
The Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge/Interstate 5 Freeway Bridge (the
part of Interstate 5 that connects Seattle's University District to
Capitol Hill) opened to traffic in December 1962. At 4,429 feet long, it
was when it opened the largest bridge of its kind ever built in the
Northwest. It is a steel truss double-deck bridge, carrying eight lanes
of traffic on the upper deck and four reversible lanes of traffic on the
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