“Of Graceful Proportions”: Strickland Kneass’s Cast Iron Chestnut St. Bridge


Want to find out why the eastern abutment of the uninspiring Chestnut Street Bridge looks like a cathedral? Check out my post at Phillyhistory.org here. Above is a pretty shoddy overlay of a 1958 HAER photo onto a relatively picture of the bridge taken last April when Penndot was doing a structural investigation of the bridge. Interestingly enough, concrete from of the “new” 1956-59 bridge was failing with chunks falling on the Schuylkill Banks path. The 1866 abutment seemed to be holding up.



One of the issues that I wanted to clarify in the Phillyhistory.org piece was that the Expressway and increased traffic both conspired against Kneass’s bridge and led to its demise. According to a Streets Department publication, Paving the Way from 1956-59, that while most of the bridge rehab projects “were directly connected with expressway construction”… “considerable emphasis was given to the replacement of existing spans unable to handle today’s traffic volumes. Structures like those on Chestnut St…..”

Follow the jump for photos of the Penndot bridge inspection and the offending concrete.

Continue reading ““Of Graceful Proportions”: Strickland Kneass’s Cast Iron Chestnut St. Bridge”

Schuylkill Expressway Palimpsest

These are Fairmount Park WPA-era maps altered by Park engineers in the mid-1950s to show the prospective course of the Schuylkill Expressway through Park lands. If you look below the whitewash you can see springs, monuments, and whole watersheds soon covered by bands of steel and concrete. This is near the Montgomery Ave. exit south of the Horticultural Center.

Continue reading “Schuylkill Expressway Palimpsest”

Robert Moses wasn’t the only power broker

This past weekend I went to see the City Museum of New York’s revisionist exhibit on the role of Robert Moses in “remaking” that five-boroughed “metropolis.” As a statement of fact, he did “remake” New York in the image and likeness of the automobile and the exhibit takes pains to incorporate the well-entrenched anti-Mosaic criticism of Jane Jacobs and Robert Caro. I would argue that the exhibit was so extraordinarily fair that it was befuddling to have such a polarizing figure like Moses situated in an accurate and correct context of his physical legacy.

Continue reading “Robert Moses wasn’t the only power broker”