(click on images for larger view)
Main Street Bridge,
Bridge No. 1626
Much has changed in Hartford since this large brownstone arch was completed in 1833. Originally,
the bridge carried Main Street over the Little River, and it was the only connection between two
separate settlements on the north and south sides. Today the stream is buried deep underground and
the city has completely grown up around the bridge. Instead of the river, traffic on the Whitehead
Highway flows under the bridge, and the east side of the arch is obscured by the structure built in
1954 to support the Hartford Public Library. At the time it was built, the Main Street bridge was
one of the largest stone-arch spans in the country. It was designed by Horatio Potter, a mathematics
professor at Washington (now Trinity) College. Potter went on to become an Episcopalian bishop.
Stone mason Elias Rathbun was not so fortunate: the strain of finishing this bridge resulted in
total paralysis of one side of his body.
• Main Street over Whitehead Highway
• Stone arch
• Length: 104'
• Built c. 1833
• Horatio Potter, engineer
• Elias Rathbun, builder
Even though the lower 15' of the arch is hidden by fill, the bridge's monumental character is still
evident. In the words of the 1833 vote accepting the bridge, "it combines strength with elegance of
architecture, and is honorable to the town." The bridge was listed on the National Register of
Historic Places in 1985.