The Gervais Street bridge—a 1,412-foot-long arch bridge—opened in 1928. It had innovative use of reinforced concrete and was the widest roadway in South Carolina. It was the only bridge for motor vehicles to cross the Congaree River in Columbia until the Blossom Street bridge was built in 1953.
It was, however, the third bridge built on this site. Remains of previous bridges can be seen north of the current bridge. Bridge #1 The Wooden Bridge
In 1819, the Columbia Bridge Company was chartered to construct the bridge, and they completed it eight years later in 1827. The early planners intended Senate and Assembly streets to be Columbia’s two main thoroughfares. However, for engineering reasons, it was constructed at Gervais Street. Traffic bypassed Senate Street making it residential. Assembly Street evolved as Columbia’s commercial area with the public market at its center.
Confederate soldiers burned the wooden bridge in 1865 to delay Sherman’s army during the Civil War. Bridge #2 The Private Bridge
The second bridge, constructed in 1870, was a privately- owned toll bridge until it was purchased by Richland and Lexington counties in 1912. Bridge #3 The current bridge
The current bridge was completed in June of 1928. It was designed by Joseph W. Barnwell, engineer for the State Highway Department and constructed by the Hardaway Contracting Company.
Until 1953, the Gervais Street Bridge was the only bridge across the Congaree River. At the time, it was the widest roadway in the state.
Its cast iron pedestals and lamps were designed by the U. S. Treasury Department, and feature the two state flag symbols, the crescent moon and palmetto tree.
Gervais Street Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Next Week: Timbouctou
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