Believe it: Chicago has a bridge to give you

Chicago could use a George C. Parker right about now. The legendary con man best known for “selling” the Brooklyn Bridge — a feat Parker accomplished multiple times — has been dead for more than eight decades. But his skills as a salesman would come in handy at at the Chicago Department of Transportation as it attempts to unload a historic span crossing the Chicago River.

Built in 1914, the Chicago Avenue Bascule Bridge is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, a designation that means the Windy City can’t just tear it down. 

So the city is offering to donate the bridge to any entity able to pick up the tab for its removal, as well as a willingness to maintain the structure and the features that give it historic significance.

Chicago is home to 42 bascule bridges, and 37, including the Chicago Avenue overpass, remain operational, according to the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

“‘Bascule’ is French for teeter totter,” explains the foundation’s Constance Rajala. “Just like getting off a teeter totter it goes up and down.”

Beyond its age, the bridge is no longer wide enough to handle today’s traffic, she added.

The city, which has offered up three other bridges in recent years without getting any takers, is accepting proposals for the bridge until July 13. 

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