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Images of the Fairport Lift Bridge

The Lift Bridge on Main Street in the Village of Fairport has allegedly appeared in Ripley's Believe It or Not because of its unusual construction. The bridge is an irregular decagon, a ten-sided structure, and crosses the canal at a 32-degree angle. No two angles in the bridge are the same, and no corners on the bridge are square. The bridge weighs 720 tons and is powered by a 40-horsepower electric motor. Clearance under the Fairport Lift Bridge is 6 feet when lowered and 15 feet when raised. Below are photographs of the construction of the Fairport Lift Bridge, historical photographs taken shortly after it was built, and some photographs of the Fairport Lift Bridge taken in 2003 and 2004.



Photographs of the Construction of the Fairport lift Bridge
Note: The images below are from the Perinton Municipal Historian collection of Rochester Images of the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County.

The Fairport Lift Bridge was constructed in 1913-1914 by H.S. Kerbaugh Inc., of Philadelphia, for $75,000. The bridge was a replacement of the former 1888 Main Street Bridge, which needed to be removed when the Erie Canal was widened.

Construction of Main Street Bridge, Fairport, N.Y. Construction of Main Street Bridge, Fairport, N.Y.
"Construction of Main Street Bridge" -- Erecting steel, Main Street Lift Bridge, Fairport
Left: looking south, March 24, 1914 ; Right: Looking west, March 24, 1914.
Gears on Main Street Bridge, Fairport, N.Y. Construction of Main Street Bridge, Fairport, N.Y.
"Gears on Main Street Bridge" -- Several men look at the gears at the south end of the Main Street Bridge, July 2, 1914. Fairport's Main Street Bridge under construction ; north approach, Sept. 3, 1914
Main Street Bridge, Fairport, N.Y. Construction of Main Street Bridge, Fairport, N.Y.
Fairport's Main Street Bridge, shown after its completion, November 4, 1914.
Left: looking northeast ; Right: looking east from West Ave. -- the bridge control tower can be seen on the right side of the photograph.

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Fairport Lift Bridge in 1915 Fairport Lift Bridge in 1915
"Lackawanna Bridge Company - Buffalo, N.Y. - 1914" -- The plaque that was originally placed upon the Fairport Lift Bridge when the bridge was constructed. The plaque was removed during painting in the early 1970s. In 2009, the plaques were located again -- one was reinstalled on the northeast corner of the Fairport Lift Bridge (in the original location), and the one pictured above was given to the Perinton Historical Society. On the right is the reverse side of the plaque.


Historical Photographs

Fairport Lift Bridge in 1915 Fairport Lift Bridge in 1915
Barge Canal, Contract No. 63 [Fairport Lift Bridge] -- from Annual Report of the State Engineer and Surveyor of the State of New York for the fiscal year ended September 30, 1915 (Albany : J. B. Lyon Co, printers, 1916) -- left: facing p. 270; right: facing p. 272.
 
Right: Douglas Packing Co., and Main Street Bridge, Fairport, N.Y. (10229 -- no publisher information) -- Postcard ; approximately 1925 ; reprinted with permission from: Erie Canal, by Andrew Kitzmann and the Erie Canal Museum (Arcadia Publishing, 2009), p. 34. --
Note that on the right side of this picture, West Avenue intersects with Main Street at the bridge, so that the southwest part of the bridge is truncated. After urban renewal changed this area, West Avenue was cut off and the west side of the bridge was extended to match the east side.
Fairport Lift Bridge in 1925

Recent Photographs

From the northeast From the southwest
The Fairport Lift Bridge from the northeast
(Bridge operator's tower to the left).
The Fairport Lift Bridge from the southwest.
 
From the canal, west side From the canal, west side
The west side, in the raised position, as seen from the canal. The east side, in the raised position, as seen from the canal.
 
From the southeast From the southeast -- raised
Fairport Lift Bridge from the southeast -
Normal automobile traffic position (down).
Fairport Lift Bridge from the southeast --
Bridge raised to let a boat through.
 
From the northwest East side pedestrian walkway
Fairport Lift Bridge from the northwest. The east side pedestrian walkway.

 
Going up Fully raised
The bridge from the south -- Going up. The bridge from the south -- Fully raised .
 
North side -- Raised position North side -- Raised position
The bridge from the north -- Raised position.
 
West side -- Raised position West side -- Raised position
The bridge from the west -- Raised position.
 
The southeast corner, with the bridge in the raised position Going up Fully raised
Detail of the southeast corner, with
the bridge in the raised position.
The bridge in the raised position -- from the underside
Left: looking south ; Right: looking north.

Each end of the Fairport Lift Bridge has a stairway on the east side which allows pedestrians to cross the bridge when in the raised position. Originally, canal traffic was heavy, and road traffic was relatively light, so the bridge was left up and only lowered when road traffic required it. In time, automobile traffic increased and canal traffic decreased, so today the bridge is left down and raised when a boat requires it.

South side stairway North side stairway
Fairport Lift Bridge stairways
Left: South stair, looking north (bridge down).
Right: North stair, looking southeast (bridge up).

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