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West Sixth Street Railroad Underpass

The present 6th Street Railroad bridge is a somewhat altered structure.  Sanborn Company maps indicate that the original bridge was constructed sometime between 1950 and 1953.  The bridge is notable for its ornate cast concrete details.  Even though it was built 40 years after the heyday of the City Beautiful Movement, this Beaux Arts Style structure may have been inspired by the architecture of that movement.  The close proximity of the bridge to the Elmwood/Pinewood Cemetery may have also influenced the decorative design of the bridge. 

The original bridge carried four rail lines.  The rail bed is a concrete slab supported by massive reinforced concrete beams, connected by concrete purlins.  Rough wooden planks were used to form the bridge beams, and the imprints of the individual boards is evident in the surface of the concrete.   The beams in turn are supported by substantial vaulted sidewalk galleries consisting of a series of narrow segment-arched openings separated by substantial square posts.  In contrast to the rough finish of the beams, the galleries feature a very smooth concrete finish.  The galleries have been decorated with stylized horizontal joints, typical of the Beaux Arts Style.  Other notable original components of the bridge are the concrete abutments.  Like the galleries, the abutments feature stylized horizontal joints.  

 

Perhaps the most impressive cast concrete decorations can be found on the elevated rail bed itself.  Projecting from the easternmost beam are four curved ogee brackets that support a narrow shelf with an ogee shaped edge.  A concrete guard rail sits above the shelf.  Each section of the guard rail is pierced by six narrow round-arch openings, and is topped by a square cap with cove trim. 
It appears that the bridge was raised as part of a larger project to raise the rail lines above all the streets in uptown area.  A western section of the original rail bed was demolished.  The original galleries were retained, with two additional arches added.   Above each gallery, a wide and tall blank concrete pier was constructed.  The new rail bed is composed of concrete I-beams.  The original section of the bridge may have been retained to allow train traffic to continue while the higher section of the bridge was constructed. 

 

 

View From the West

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