St Louis, MO 63102
The building of the Eads Bridge was the fulfillment of a dream that the St Louis Merchants Exchange had to have a bridge built across the Mississippi River. Originally named the St Louis Bridge, it was opened to traffic in 1874. It was later renamed after its designer, James Buchanan Eads, who was also the designer and builder of "ironclad" gun boats during the Civil War. Because of strong opposition from the riverboat captains, Eads had to come up with a way to build the bridge without interrupting the river traffic. In doing so, the Eads Bridge set several precedents in the design and building of bridges, such as the use of cantilevers in the building of the superstructure and the use of pneumatic caissons for the first time in the US.
The Eads Bridge is a double deck structure. When it opened it had a roadway and two pedestrian walkways on the top deck and two street car tracks on the lower deck. Today the upper deck is a paved biking and walking trail that connects to the Mississippi River Trail and to the St. Louis Riverfront Trail. The bottom deck is now used by MetroLink, the St. Louis area's mass transit light rail system. It is a St Louis Landmark, a National Historic Landmark and is also on the National Register of Historic Places.