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 198 at the bottom of Lake Kaweah

East of Lemon Cove of Tulare County one can find several old alignments of California State Route 198 at the bottom of the Lake Kaweah Reservoir.  In particularly dry years these early alignments of California State Route 198 can be accessed as hiking trails.   Part 1; a brief history of California State Route 198 in the Lake Kaweah Reservoir The current corridor of California State Route 198 ("CA 198") in Lake Kaweah has a lengthy history.  The present corridor around Lake Kaweah first became a popular route of travel for European settlers during the mining boom of Mineral King Valley.   Through the 1860s prospectors arrived in Mineral King Valley by way of the Kaweah River and East Fork Kaweah River.  In 1870 John Lovelace and his family built a stock trail up to what was known as Milk Ranch on the East Fork Kaweah River.  The Lovelace extended their trail all the way up to Mineral King Valley and the prospector camp sites.  In 1871 the stock trail was greatly improved

Legend of the Ridge Route; a history of crossing the mountains between the Los Angeles Basin and San Joaquin Valley from wagon trails to Interstates

Over the past two decades I've crossed the Interstate 5 corridor from Los Angeles north over the Sierra Pelona Mountains and Tehachapi Range to San Joaquin Valley what seems to be an immeasurable number of times.  While Interstate 5 from Castaic Junction to Grapevine via Tejon Pass today is known to most as "The Grapevine" it occupies a corridor which has been traversed by numerous historic highways.  The most notable of these highways is known as the "Ridge Route."  This article is dedicated to the Ridge Route and the various highways that preceded it.  The Ridge Route is a 44 mile section of highway which was completed in 1915.  The Ridge Route originally stretched from Castaic Junction north over Liebre Summit and Tejon Pass to the tiny community of Grapevine.  In spite of a roadway that once utilized nearly 700 curves the Ridge Route is generally considered far ahead of it's time and one of the first modern highways in California constructed for auto

I-73/I-74 and NC Future Interstates Year in Review 2020

I'm back with my annual review of what happened the past year with North Carolina's Favorite(?) Interstates, I-73 and I-74, and with other interstate routes proposed and/or under construction. Needless to say, 2020 was a difficult year. The Covid-19 pandemic had its effects on road construction too. NCDOT seeing a decline in its gas tax revenues put a hold on all future projects in the spring. In the fall the 2020-2029 State TIP was revised, restoring funding for some future projects, but also delaying or postponing many more. In my summary by route I'll discuss what was planned at the beginning of 2020 and where things stand at the end of the year. Was a very quiet year for I-73. No additions to the route, but a couple construction projects for future routings. In Richmond County work on the I-73/I-74 Richmond Bypass continued. Substantial clearing for the future interchange with the US 74 Rockingham Bypass was seen, as here in May, photo by Tracy Hamm: As of November 30,