Back when Midtown Atlanta was known as North Atlanta, a set of Southern Railway railroad tracks ran along the eastern edge of Piedmont Park. A sometimes dangerous scar that sliced park access from the developing neighborhood of Druid Hills, forces within the city of Atlanta decided to build a bridge that would span the railroad tracks and access Monroe Drive.
The result was the Park Drive Bridge, originally known as the Piedmont Park Boulevard Bridge when it was built in 1916, pictured here for this Fast Friday.
Sources from the time indicate the bridge was designed by city engineer O.F. Kauffman employed by the Department of Bridges and Estimates. The abutments and bridge proper are made from reinforced concrete, with a combination of finished and exposed natural surfaces.
While the red brick bridge railings, pilasters and panels stand out in the design, particularly from afar, as you approach the eye is always drawn to the brightly colored Native American mosaic tiles placed in the arch ring and piers, along with the cast iron modillions that are painted black.
The large arch offered 35 feet of clearance over Clear Creek, while the girder spans on the east side of the bridge offered a clearance of 22 feet. The girder spans currently feature a mural by the artists Hense and Born, commissioned by Art on the Atlanta Beltline.
It was built in 1916 by contractors Case & Cothran along with Atlanta city workers at a total cost of $28,904.75. The cost was divided as follows: Northern Boulevard Park Corporation – 34.6%; City of Atlanta – 21.3%; Fulton County – 26.8% and Southern Railway – 17.3%.
There were plans to sandblast and improve the Park Drive Bridge in 2011. The bridge currently spans the Piedmont Park Dog Park. Leash the pooch and go check it out.
Did you know? The roadway slab for the Park Drive Bridge is seven feet thick.
Did you know? French industrialists François Coignet built the first iron-reinforced concrete structure in 1853.
Did you know? The Park Drive Bridge is 625 feet long, including approaches.