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Structures

Kennedy Drawbridge Celebrates 100 Years

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The oldest movable bridge in the state is entering 100 years of service this year.

The Kennedy Drawbridge, located in downtown Tampa, was completed in late 1913 and dedicated during the Gasparilla celebration in February 1914.

Originally named the Lafayette Street Bridge, it was renamed Kennedy Boulevard Draw Bridge 50 years ago in December 1963 to honor the late president who visited Tampa on November 18, 1963, and traveled over the bridge just four days before his assassination in Dallas

Just how long is 100 years? Let’s take a quick look. The Kennedy Drawbridge started construction just four months after the Titanic sunk in 1912. Tony Jannus landed the world’s first commercial airplane flight downstream of the bridge on January 1, 1914 and World War I started later that year.

The drawbridge span opens on type of pivoting gear known as a rolling scherzer.  Originally designed for street cars, the engineers of the time built the bridge with enough strength that it still carries 38,500 vehicles per day including trucks of all legal loads with no posting restrictions.

The bridge design contains beautiful concrete arches along with urn shaped towers providing a feeling of roman era construction.

Here is a great web site for more in-depth history of the downtown Tampa area and the bridges:  http://www.tampapix.com/lafayette1.htm

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Article courtesy of Jim Jacobsen. Photos courtesy Bronoris Pye.

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