This week for our blog series, Music City Memento we look at the most notable bridge in Nashville, the John Seigenthaler Bridge. Casually known as the “Pedestrian Bridge” this bridge can be seen from many notable landmarks all around Nashville including LP Field, Broadway, 1st Avenue, and some of the interstates that wrap around the city.
The bridge is known as a truss bridge and it spans the Cumberland River in Nashville. The bridge spans 3,150 feet and is one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world. It was originally opened on July 5, 1909, and was reopened as a pedestrian bridge on August 3, 2003.
The John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge was originally known as the Sparkman Street Bridge because it was built one block south of Broadway, connecting Sparkman Street and Shelby Avenue. The bridge was built for $475,000 dollars and had a twin bridge called the Jefferson Street Bridge open a year later. The substructure was made of light concrete and the superstructures were made from steel painted black. The bridge was the first in North America to feature arched concrete trusses.
Howard M. Jones, the chief engineer Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railway, facilitated and designed the bridge. You can actually see his originally architectural design being held in the archives of the Metro Transportation Offices.
Due to poor condition, in 1992 the bridge was closed to vehicular traffic. It was originally planned to be demolished but with more thought towards the historical relevance it was to be made into a pedestrian bridge. The bridge was refurbished and includes an elevator, ramps, and stairways. It is fifteen feet wide and offers two bike lanes on each side. It also features elevated boardwalk sidewalks with four pedestrian overlooks of Nashville and the Cumberland River.
The bridge has become a symbol of Nashville and because of that you can see it in movies and a multitude of country music videos such as “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy” by Big & Rich and “Together You and I” by Dolly Parton!