Building International Bridges: The Opening of the U.S.-Canadian Ambassador Bridge, November 15, 1929

Although the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates were at odds over the idea of building a wall on the international border with Mexico, both championed grand infrastructure projects designed to put Americans back to work modernizing and rebuilding crumbling highway, tunnel, road, and bridge infrastructure. As today marks the anniversary of the opening of the Ambassador Bridge between Canada and the United States, I thought that I would present to our readers a brief description of and look at that venture.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Promised Gift

In the wake of the American Civil War, U.S. and Canadian merchant and farming interests began clamoring for a more efficient means of accommodating the growing international commerce between the cities of Detroit and Windsor than the existing ferries were capable of providing.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Promised Gift

While railroad interests began construction on a tunnel in 1871, noxious gases forced the abandonment of that venture, even as proposals for a bridge were opposed by shipping interests and shelved by U.S. Army Corps engineers over concerns about potential navigational hazards to tall masted ships. While the Michigan Central Railway successfully completed construction on the Detroit River Tunnel in 1910, the growing popularity of vehicular travel in post-WWI America again spurred the idea of building a bridge across the river and the international border to honor the “youth of Canada and the United States who served in the Great War.”

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Promised Gift

Designed by the McClintic-Marshall Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the 7,500-foot long suspension bridge required 19,000 tons of steel rising as high as 152 feet above the Detroit River.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Promised Gift

Construction on the project began in 1927, and was completed at a total cost of $23.5 million dollars (1% under budget). At the time of its construction, the Ambassador Bridge had the longest suspended central span in the world—1,850 feet—a record broken in 1931 by the George Washington Bridge between New York and New Jersey.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Promised Gift

While the main span over the river is supported by suspension cables, the main pillars of the bridge are supported by steel in a cantilever truss structure.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Promised Gift

The Ambassador Bridge officially opened to the public on November 15, 1929. The 5,160-foot-long Detroit-Windsor Tunnel opened up another avenue of international traffic on November 3rd, 1930. A new crossing, the Gordie Howe International Bridge, has been approved by the U.S. Federal government in April 2013, and work has begun on this public-private partnership.

~ by "The Chief" on November 15, 2016.

One Response to “Building International Bridges: The Opening of the U.S.-Canadian Ambassador Bridge, November 15, 1929”

  1. Mercy beaucoupe… Thanks Muy apropiado. On Nov 15, 2016 2:11 PM, “Wolfsonian-FIU Library” wrote:

    > “The Chief” posted: “Although the Democratic and Republican presidential > candidates were at odds over the idea of building a wall on the > international border with Mexico, both championed grand infrastructure > projects designed to put Americans back to work modernizing and rebu” >

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