Skip to main content

Bridge of Lions - St. Augustine


Within a city over 450 years old, there are numerous structures that are treasures of historical significance and civic pride. The nearly three centuries old Castillo de San Marcos or Mediterranean styled architecture attract tourists year round. However, a comparatively young 90 year old bridge linking St. Augustine over the Matanzas Bay to Anastasia Island has become the symbol and gateway to the city.  The Bridge of Lions, a double-leaf bascule drawbridge named after the pair of marble lions that guard its western bank, has been a glorious symbol of the city since its opening in 1927.

One of the two marble lions that are located at the bridge.  While the bridge was being fully rehabilitated from 2005-2010, the marbles were removed to storage.  They returned to the bridge in March 2011.

Construction of the Bridge of Lions began in 1925 to replace a wooden structure that was built in 1895.  Considered by locals as an 'eyesore', the wooden toll bridge had become overburden by the new automobile era.  In 1924, Dr. Andrew Anderson, a close friend of Henry Flagler, donated to the city two Carrera marble lions for the new bridge.  The two lions, which watch over the St. Augustine approach to the bridge, became the symbol of the bridge, hence its name, "The Bridge of Lions." Dr. Anderson died shortly after his gift to the city.

Looking westbound on the bridge - below one of the bridge's four towers.


A half century later, the bridge would begin to show its age and the effects of heavier traffic and erosive salt water.  During the 1970s, the bridge received over $2.2 million in structural repairs, and the Florida Department of Transportation began studies on replacing the bridge. In the early 1980's, FDOT proposed a four-lane replacement span.  This plan would see heavy opposition from local residents who saw the bridge as one of the city's most significant structures.  Two groups, The Friends of St. Augustine Architecture and Save Our Bridge, Inc., would form and work together to fight the replacement of the bridge and push for a rehabilitation.


Two views of the Bridge of Lions from the Matanzas River.


The Battle over The Bridge of Lions would last over two decades.  During that span, the bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and named as one of the "11 Most Endangered Historic Sites" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1997.  During the 1990s, FDOT leaned more towards the idea of rehabilitating the bridge, and in 1999, the state began studies on a total rehabilitation of the bridge.  Construction began on a temporary drawbridge in February 2005. At the same time, the two marble lions that guarded the bridge were removed.   When the temporary drawbridge was completed, the full rehabilitation of the bridge began.

The fully rehabilitated Bridge of Lions bascule draw span opening at nightfall.

The full rehabilitation of the Bridge of Lions was completed in March 2010.  One year later, the two lions returned to their posts watching over the bridge.

All photos taken by post author - May 2004 & October 18, 2011.

Sources & Links:
How To Get There:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Deer Isle Bridge in Maine

As graceful a bridge that I ever set my eyes upon, the Deer Isle Bridge (officially known as the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge) surprisingly caught my eye as I was driving around coastal Maine one Saturday afternoon. About 35 miles south of Bangor, Maine , the Deer Isle Bridge connects the Blue Hill Peninsula of Downeast Maine with Little Deer Isle over the Eggemoggin Reach on ME 15 between the towns of Sedgwick and Deer Isle . It should be noted that Little Deer Isle is connected to Deer Isle by way of a boulder lined causeway, and there is a storied regatta that takes place on the Eggemoggin Reach each summer. But the Deer Isle Bridge holds many stories, not just for the vacationers who spend part of their summer on Deer Isle or in nearby Stonington , but for the residents throughout the years and the folks who have had a hand bringing this vital link to life.   The Deer Isle Bridge was designed by David Steinman and built by the Phoenix Bridge Company of Phoenixville,

Former US Route 99 through Athlone and the last Wheeler Ridge-Sacramento corridor expressway

Athlone was a siding of the Southern Pacific Railroad located in Merced County on the alignment of what was US Route 99 between the cities of Chowchilla and Merced.  The Athlone corridor of US Route 99 was one of the first in San Joaquin Valley to fully upgraded to four lane expressway standards.  The Athlone expressway corridor was inherited by California State Route 99 when US Route 99 was truncated to Ashland, Oregon during June 1965.  The four-lane expressway through Athlone was the last segment of what had been US Route 99 in the Wheeler Ridge-Sacramento corridor to be bypassed by a freeway.  The Athlone expressway corridor was bypassed by the modern California State Route 99 freeway in 2016.  Despite being put on a road diet and narrowed what was the Athlone expressway corridor still displays evidence of being part of US Route 99.   Above the blog cover photo displays the Athlone expressway corridor of US Route 99 south of Merced as depicted in the July 1939 California Highways &

California State Route 38

California State Route 38 is a fifty-nine-mile State Highway located entirety in San Bernardino County and a component of the Rim of the World Highway.  California State Route 38 begins at California State Route 18 at Bear Valley Dam of the San Bernardino Mountains and follows an easterly course on the north shore of Big Bear Lake.  California State Route 38 briefly multiplexes California State Route 18 near Baldwin Lake and branches east towards the 8,443-foot-high Onyx Summit.  From Onyx Summit the routing of California State Route 38 reverses course following a largely westward path through the San Bernardino Mountains towards a terminus at Interstate 10 in Redlands.   Pictured as the blog cover is California State Route 38 at Onyx Summit the day it opened to traffic on August 12th, 1961.   Part 1; the history of California State Route 38 California State Route 38 (CA 38) is generally considered to be the back way through the San Bernardino Mountains to Big Bear Lake of Bear Valley