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The mission of the Friends of the Wissahickon is to preserve the natural beauty and wildness of the Wissahickon Valley and stimulate public interest therein.

Bridges

Fingerspan Bridge

In 1987 the Fairmount Park Art Association commissioned "Fingerspan", a sculpture by internationally renowned artist Jody Pinto which functions as a pedestrian bridge. When a span over the gorge south of Livezey Dam deteriorated, Fairmount Park retrofitted and installed a staircase from an old ship. To replace the stairs, the artist designed "Fingerspan", an outgrowth of the Fairmount Park Art Association's Form and Function project. The span was fabricated in sections and installed by helicopter. A grant from the Art in Public Places Program of the National Endowment for the Arts supplemented funds from the Fairmount Park Art Association, and the work was donated to the City of Philadelphia.

Henry Avenue Memorial Bridge

This stone and concrete bridge, also known as the Wissahickon Memorial Bridge, crosses over Lincoln Drive and Wissahickon Creek. It was designed by Paul Philippe Cret, a nationally acclaimed Philadelphia architect and proponent of the Beaux-Arts movement, in collaboration with Frank M. Masters in 1927. It is dedicated to the men and women of Philadelphia's northwest neighborhoods who served in World War I.

Rex Avenue Bridge

The Works Projects Administration (WPA) built this stone bridge between 1935 and 1940.

Stone Arch Bridges

There are 126 stone arch bridges in the five-county region around Philadelphia. Five are located in the Wissahickon Valley. The earliest appears to be the Bell's Mill Road Bridge, built in 1820 as a County Bridge. The Valley Green Bridge over the Wissahickon Creek is historic and distinctive in technology and architecture with a closed spandrel arch. Built in 1832 as a County Bridge, it was rebuilt in 1915. The bridge crossing Cresheim Creek near Cresheim Valley Road was built in 1885, and the bridge crossing the Wissahickon Creek near Ridge Avenue was built in 1888.

The Blue Stone Bridge, originally known as the Old Red Bridge or the Lotus Inn Bridge, was built in 1896. It crosses over the Wissahickon Creek at the southern end of RittenhouseTown and was the principal bypass route round Philadelphia between New York and Baltimore. The Crawford Stage Coach line ran along this rough cobblestone road. Close to the creek, near the intersection of Shur's Lane and what is now known as Forbidden Drive, was the Lotus Inn--one of seven roadhouses that served Wissahickon travelers. After completion of the Walnut Lane Bridge in 1908, Shur's Lane was no longer a major travel route.

Thomas Mill Road Covered Bridge

This is the only remaining covered bridge in the Wissahickon. Originally built in 1737, it provided a connection across the gorge between developing communities in Chestnut Hill and Roxborough. Several houses belonging to mill owners occupied the field on the east side of the bridge. Traffic from the east side could reach Manatawna Lane about 100 feet upstream and travel up the steep hillside into upper Roxborough. The bridge was restored by WPA workers in 1938 and has continued to be maintained since that time under the stewardship of FOW and the Fairmount Park Commission. The most recent repairs were done in 1999.

Walnut Lane Bridge

One of the first reinforced concrete bridges ever built, the center arch of Walnut Lane Bridge was the highest and longest in the world when it opened in 1908. Its engineers, George S. Webster and Henry H. Quimby, employed concrete to blend in with the picturesque Wissahickon section of Fairmount Park. Webster put into place years of progressive reform thinking on how to use comprehensive planning and large construction projects to connect communities with each other and with the city.

site by Kelsh Wilson / Eastern Standard

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