CT's Historic Masonry Arches


(click on images for larger view)

Main Street Bridge,
Bridge No. 1626


Main Street Bridge

Main Street over Whitehead Highway
Hartford
Stone arch
Length: 104'
Built c. 1833
Horatio Potter, engineer
Elias Rathbun, builder
Historic engraving of of Main Street BridgeMuch 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 Main Street Bridge 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.

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.

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