Time Span: When This Bridge Fell, It Fell One Year Short of Its Centennial

For generations it helped people cross the Clear Fork of the Trinity River, taking East Siders to, for example, Montgomery Ward or Farrington Field or the Chevy plant or the Bowie Theater, taking West Siders to Leonard’s Department Store or Stripling’s or the Worth Theater or the Westbrook Hotel. In 2013 the ninety-nine-year-old West 7th Street Bridge was torn down and replaced by a new bridge.


7th street bridge subNew.

The new bridge is thirty feet wider than the old bridge, has lanes for vehicular traffic in the center and sidewalks for pedestrians and bicyclists on the sides.

(Sometimes bicyclists on the bridge take a ride on the wild side.)

(Sunset on 7th Street)

The twelve concrete-and-steel arches of the new bridge, each weighing three hundred tons, were cast and stored at a construction area northwest of the old bridge.

bridge zan zandt

van zandt plaque 1van zandt plaque 2 van zandt plaque 4van zandt mugThe new bridge, like the old bridge, officially is named the “Van Zandt Viaduct” in honor of civic leader and banker Major Khleber Miller Van Zandt, who owned land stretching from the river west to today’s Will Rogers complex and who in the 1880s built the first bridge at the site. (Before he built his bridge he once had to throw the combination to his bank’s safe over the river so that a depositor could make a withdrawal.)

7th bridge 4-3-90 gazVan Zandt’s bridge of the 1880s was replaced in 1890 as Arlington Heights was developed and streetcar service to Lake Como trolley park began along Arlington Heights Boulevard (West 7th Street today) to “the city.” This clip from the Fort Worth Gazette says the 1890 bridge would be ready before the Spring Palace exhibition opened.

7th ah ad 9-25-90 gazNote the “Fourth and Rusk Streets” address. That’s the Land Title Block Building, which had opened the previous year. Clip is from the September 25, 1890 Gazette.

After the 1890 West 7th Street Bridge was damaged in the flood of 1908 its deck was refloored with oak planks.

In 1911 the Star-Telegram published a drawing of the proposed viaduct over the Clear Fork at West 7th Street. Because the eastern approach of the bridge on the downtown bluff is higher than the western approach at Trinity Park, the new viaduct, like the 1939 Lancaster Avenue Bridge, had to be long enough to allow a gentle slope between east and west.

Plans for the 1914 West 7th Street Bridge were approved in August 1912 as Fort Worth went on a bridge binge.

According to this Star-Telegram clip, the bridge opened on January 15, 1914.

bridge 7th pc191x Seventh Street 800x483x400dpiOld postcards show the bridge’s east end. The top postcard shows a streetcar.

bridge piers 7th arch newArches old and new during the transition.


van zandt 1954 plaqueIn 1954 the 1914 bridge was widened and extended westward as the Army Corps of Engineers unkinked the channel of the river and built levees for flood control in response to the flood of 1949.

Before the new bridge was built, you could see a slight trough where the original channel flowed under the main arch of the old bridge. The arch, similar to those of the Paddock Viaduct and the Henderson Street Bridge (1930), was part of the 1914 construction on the east side of the 1954 river channel.

Yellow line shows the bend of the original river channel under the main arch before 1954.

bridge 7th reflectionNew piers and beams built in 1954 to extend the old bridge over the 1954 channel.

Rust in peace, old bridge. Maybe your replacement will make it to one hundred.

This entry was posted in Architecture, Downtown, All Around, Life in the Past Lane, Rollin' on the River, West Side. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Time Span: When This Bridge Fell, It Fell One Year Short of Its Centennial

  1. Steve A says:

    I never felt uncomfortable riding my bike across this bridge on the roadway. Is getting relegated to the sidewalk really progress?

    • hometown says:

      I hate going over this one and the even-longer Lancaster bridge. Even on the sidewalk. Even with light traffic. I hope the new bridge makes me worry less about out-of-control cars and plunges into murky depths below.

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