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

Former California State Route 1 over Old Pedro Mountain Road

California State Route 1 in western San Mateo County traverses the Montara Mountain spur of the Santa Cruz Mountains.  In modern times California State Route 1 passes through Montara Mountain via the Tom Lantos Tunnels and the highway is traditionally associated with Devils Slide.  Although Devils Slide carries an infamous legacy due it being prone landslides it pales in comparison to the alignment California State Route 1 carried prior to November 1937 over Old Pedro Mountain Road.   Old Pedro Mountain Road opened to traffic in 1915 and is considered one of the first major asphalted highways in California.  Old Pedro Mountain Road clambers over a grade from Montara towards Pacifica via the 922 foot high Saddle Pass.  Pictured above an overlook of Old Pedro Mountain Road facing southward towards Montara as it appears today.  Pictured below it the same view during June 1937 when it was part of the original alignment of California State Route 1.  Today Old Pedro Mountain sits abandoned a

Former US Route 101 and California State Route 1 in San Luis Obispo

Originally US Route 101 upon descending Cuesta Pass southbound entered the City of San Luis Obispo via Monterey Street.  From Monterey Street US Route 101 utilized Santa Rosa Street and Higuera Street southbound through downtown San Luis Obispo.  Upon departing downtown San Luis Obispo US Route 101 would have stayed on Higuera Street southward towards Pismo Beach and Arroyo Grande.  Notably; beginning in 1934 US Route 101 picked up California State Route 1 at the intersection of Monterey Street/Santa Rosa Street where the two would multiplex to Pismo Beach.  Pictured below is the 1 935 Division of Highways Map of San Luis Obispo County depicting the original alignments of US Route 101 and California State Route 1 in the City of San Luis Obispo.   Part 1; the history of US Route 1 and California State Route 1 in San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo lies at the bottom of the Cuesta Pass (also known as the Cuesta Grade) which has made it favored corridor of travel for centuries.  Cuesta Pass

California State Route 232

This past month I drove the entirety of California State Route 232 in Ventura County. CA 232 is an approximately 4 miles State Highway aligned on Vineland Avenye which begins near Saticoy at CA 118 and traverses southwest to US Route 101 in Oxnard.  The alignment of CA 232 was first adopted into the State Highway System in 1933 as Legislative Route Number 154 according to CAhighways.org. CAhighways.org on LRN 154 As originally defined LRN 154 was aligned from LRN 9 (future CA 118) southwest to LRN 2/US 101 in El Rio.  This configuration of LRN 154 between CA 118/LRN 9 and US 101/LRN 2 can be seen on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Ventura County. 1935 Ventura County Highway Map According to CAhighways.org the route of LRN 154 was extended west from US 101/LRN 2 to US 101A/LRN 60 in 1951.  Unfortunately State Highway Maps do not show this extension due to it being extremely small. During the 1964 State Highway Renumbering LRN 154 was assigned CA 232.  Of n