News

The Digital Archives Website will be offline for scheduled maintenance from Wednesday, March 3rd from 11:59PM to Thursday, March 4th at 3:30AM.

<< Back to News

Treasures of the Digital Archives: The Washington Street Bridge

Washington Street Bridge near completion, Photographs, City of Spokane Public Works Department, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives.

Washington Street Bridge near completion, Photographs, City of Spokane Public Works Department, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov

This photo is from the City of Spokane Public Works Department, and harkens back to a time when horses and carriages still reigned supreme in the City of Spokane. In 1908, the Washington Street Bridge was constructed over the Spokane River to provide an avenue for the rapidly growing city’s population. Completed in 1909, the bridge had a moment of fame when legendary illusionist Harry Houdini was invited to perform one of his daring magic tricks on it. Houdini reportedly had chains placed around his legs and his hands put in handcuffs, before plummeting to the Spokane River below. Houdini supposedly sunk deep into the freezing waters for a moment, before triumphantly arising to the surface unchained. The marketing stunt was a great success for the sponsoring Spokane businesses. The bridge continued in relatively uninterrupted use until the late 1970s, when cracks and holes were discovered in the concrete superstructure. Weight limits and other stopgap measures were proposed, but in the end the decision was made to re-build it entirely, and by 1985 nothing remained of the original structure. Before its demolition, the Washington Street Bridge had the honor of being the oldest concrete bridge in the State of Washington. Do a search for “Washington Street Bridge” on the Digital Archives homepage to find more great pictures of it under construction.