Jimi Hendrix Clara McCarty Captain Robert Gray Anna Louise StrongAnna Louise Strong Bailey Gatzert Home WWII Women Pilots
Search Encyclopedia
Advanced Search
Featured Essay
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search
7099 HistoryLink.org essays now available      
Donation system not supported by Safari     Donate Subscribe


Cyberpedias Cyberpedias
Timeline Essays Timeline Essays
People's Histories People's Histories

Selected Collections
Cities & Towns Cities & Towns
County Thumbnails Counties
Biographies Biographies
Interactive Cybertours Interactive Cybertours
Slide Shows Slideshows
Public Ports Public Ports
Audio & Video Audio & Video

Research Shortcuts

Map Searches
Alphabetical Search
Timeline Date Search
Topic Search


Book of the Fortnight
Audio/Video Enhanced
History Bookshelf
Klondike Gold Rush Database
Duvall Newspaper Index
Wellington Scrapbook

More History

Washington FAQs
Washington Milestones
Honor Rolls
Columbia Basin
Walla Walla
Roads & Rails

Timeline Library

< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Seattle's Fremont Bridge opens to traffic on June 15, 1917.

HistoryLink.org Essay 3129 : Printer-Friendly Format

On June 15, 1917, Seattle's Fremont Bridge, spanning the Lake Washington Ship Canal, opens to traffic. The bridge is built to connect the neighborhood of Fremont with the west side of Lake Union at the base of Queen Anne Hill. The Fremont Bridge is a bascule bridge with counterweight balancing and cantilevered "leafs" (the parts that raise and lower). It is painted blue and orange. The bridge clears the water by 30 feet and has opened and closed its double-leafed gates more than any other Seattle drawbridge. It is one of the busiest bascule bridges in the world.

The Lake Washington Ship Canal was completed in 1917. In the process, the creek connecting Lake Union and Salmon Bay was enlarged and became part of the canal, deep enough and wide enough for oceangoing vessels to enter. The old trestle bridges were taken down and the Fremont Bridge was built. The bridge employed technology developed in Chicago in 1898.

The Bridge Engineer was F. A. Rapp, and the pier design was by D. R. Huntington. The counterweight pits and workings are housed in two concrete piers, each of which has a tower.

In Made to Last: Historic Preservation in Seattle and King County Lawrence Kreisman writes:

"The Fremont community attaches great value to the bridge as an identifiable and historically significant landmark. Bright orange was selected by the Fremont Community Council to distinguish their bridge from other bridges throughout the city, but it faded quickly, and the bridge is now painted blue with orange accents."

The current colors of the bridge were selected by a 1985 poll of Fremont residents and by the Fremont Arts Council. As of 2005, the bridge opens about 35 times a day. The community celebrated its 500,000th opening on September 20, 1991. By January 2006 the bridge had opened for marine traffic some 566,000 times.

Between September 2005 and June 2007, the bridge's 90-year-old approaches were replaced. This required the rerouting of Metro buses, many lane closings, and some bridge closings. The bridge's traffic signals, sidewalks, and curbs were also improved. SDOT reopened Fremont Bridge's four lanes on May 18, 2007. The bridge's mechanical and electrical structures will be renovated during the next year.

Lawrence Kreisman, Made To Last: Historic Preservation in Seattle and King County (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999), 72; "Bridges and Roadway Structures," Seattle Department of Transportation website accessed on June 15, 2005 and May 31, 2007 (http://www.ci.seattle.wa.us/transportation/bridges.htm).
Note: This essay was expanded on June 15, 2005.

Travel through time (chronological order):
< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Special Suite: Bridges |

Related Topics: Seattle Neighborhoods | Roads & Rails |

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You

This essay made possible by:
The SCHOONER Project:
The Hon. Jan Drago
Seattle City Council
Seattle Department of Neighborhoods

Click here to play
Fremont Bridge, Seattle, 1926 (silent film)
Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives (Archive Item No. 566)

Aerial view of Aurora Bridge (l.), and Fremont Bridge, Seattle, 1940s

Fremont Bridge, shot from Aurora Bridge, Seattle, July 2001
HistoryLink.org Photo by Priscilla Long

Fremont Bridge, Seattle, March 2001
HistoryLink.org Photo by Priscilla Long

Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search

HistoryLink.org is the first online encyclopedia of local and state history created expressly for the Internet. (SM)
HistoryLink.org is a free public and educational resource produced by History Ink, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporation.
Contact us by phone at 206.447.8140, by mail at Historylink, 1411 4th Ave. Suite 803, Seattle WA 98101 or email admin@historylink.org