The Walnut Street Bridge, pictured above, is Tennessee’s oldest non-military highway bridge still in use today. It was also the first non-military highway bridge across the Tennessee River.
Today, instead of cars and trucks rumbling over it, pedestrians ranging from moms with baby strollers, to dog lovers with their pets, cross from the North Shore to Chattanooga’s downtown.
The Walnut Street Bridge, called a superstructure on the engraving at its top, is 2,376 feet (724 m) long and crosses the Tennessee River. How old is the bridge? (Click on the tab above to find out!)
The .45 mile long (704 m) Walnut Street Bridge was built in 1890, making it 126 years old in 2016. It’s one of a number of pedestrian bridges in the U.S., including Poughkeepsie’s Walkway Over the Hudson at 1.25 miles long, and Manhattan’s High Line Park (1.45 miles long).
It was built by Neeley, Smith & Company, from Chattanooga. Edwin Thacher was chief engineer, along with J.A. Fairleich and E.E. Betts.
The bridge served horse and wagon traffic, then motor vehicle traffic until 1978 when it nearly met the executioner’s axe–er–dynamite. A community group banded together to save this historic part of the city and restore it, a revitalization project that resulted in amazing new life along the riverfront and North shore.
The Walnut Street Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 23, 1990.
Chattanooga did what many felt was impossible–it turned an old, dilapidated riverfront warehouse district into a vibrant, exciting new riverpark development. Along with restoring the Walnut Street Bridge, a visual reminder of the strength and foresight of its pioneers, the riverpark celebrates its history, while ensuring a bright future.
During my visit to Chattanooga, I spent two days along the Tennessee Riverpark, enjoying many of the attractions along with the natural environment.
Have fun with this mapquest of Chattanooga’s free downtown shuttle route that takes you from the Riverpark downtown to the Chattanooga Choo-choo!
On the opposite bank to the Riverpark connected by the Walnut Street Bridge, you’ll find Coolidge Park, which is also beautiful!
And to end your day exploring the shores on both sides of the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge, take a ride on the 100-year-old restored antique carousel!