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

Yes, the color of your nearby fire hydrant matters...

...and here's why. You will find White, Red, Yellow and Violet colored fire hydrants pretty much everywhere.  But there's a reason for this - and it's because of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).  This association has issued guidelines for color coding standards for fire hydrants.  These color codes from the body of the hydrant, top of the hydrant, and in some municipalities the outlet caps are designed to allow fire fighters to know what type of system, water flow rate (Gallons Per Minute or GPM), and level of water pressure.  This guideline is known as NFPA 291 and is intended to be used universally throughout the United States. The NFPA guidelines are specific to the body and the top cap of the hydrant.  If a hydrant is WHITE or YELLOW - it means that it is connected to a public/municipal water system.  If a hydrant is RED - the hydrant is connected to a private system, typically a well.  These are most common in rural or unincorporated areas

Phase 1 of the California State Route 132 West Expressway (in the making since 1947)

On September 15, 2022, the Phase 1 of the California State Route 132 West Expressway opened in the city of Modesto from California State Route 99 west to North Dakota Avenue.  Phase 1 of the California State Route 132 West Expressway was built upon a corridor which was tentatively to designated to become the branching point for Interstate 5W in the 1947 concept of the Interstate Highway System.  The present California State Route 132 West Expressway corridor was adopted by the California Highway Commission on June 20, 1956.  Despite almost being rescinded during the 1970s the concept of the California State Route 132 West Expressway corridor lingered on for over half a century and became likely the oldest undeveloped right-of-way owned by California Transportation Commission.  Pictured above is the planned California State Route 132 freeway west of US Route 99 in Modesto as featured in the May/June 1962 California Highways & Public Works.   The history of the California State Route

Aptos Creek Road to the Loma Prieta ghost town site

Aptos Creek Road is a roadway in Santa Cruz County, California which connects the community of Aptos north to The Forest of Nisene Marks State Parks.  Aptos Creek Road north of Aptos is largely unpaved and is where the town site of Loma Prieta can be located.  Loma Prieta was a sawmill community which operated from 1883-1923 and reached a peak population of approximately three hundred.  Loma Prieta included a railroad which is now occupied by Aptos Creek Road along with a spur to Bridge Creek which now the Loma Prieta Grade Trail.  The site of the Loma Prieta Mill and company town burned in 1942.   Part 1; the history of Aptos Creek Road and the Loma Prieta town site Modern Aptos traces its origin to Mexican Rancho Aptos.  Rancho Aptos was granted by the Mexican Government in 1833 Rafael Castro.  Rancho Aptos took its name from Aptos Creek which coursed through from the Santa Cruz Mountains to Monterey Bay.  Castro initially used Rancho Aptos to raise cattle for their hides.  Following