1. Florida East Coast Strauss Trunnion Bascule Bridge

This double track railroad structure is the oldest remaining bridge crossing the mighty St. Johns.  It was originally constructed by oil magnate Henry M. Flagler, to provide better access to South Florida and served as the final chapter of Jacksonville’s decline as a major tourist center. This 1925 bascule bridge replaced the original swing-span bridge that opened on January 5, 1890.

2. St. Elmo Acosta Bridge

Image courtesy of the State Archives of Florida.

Constructed in 1921, the original Acosta Bridge was the first automobile and only streetcar crossing over the St. Johns.  It was also the first vertical lift bridge in the state and the first in the Southeast to use a pneumatic process for the placement of its caissons.  Originally known as the St. Johns River Bridge, the “Yellow Monster” was eventually named for City Councilman St. Elmo W. Acosta, who convinced voters to approve the bond issue to build the bridge. The old bridge was originally called the St. Johns River Bridge.  Tolls were charged until 1940, earning more than $4 million for the city.

Image courtesy of State Archives of Florida.

Due to high maintenance costs and increased traffic flow, it came down in the 1990’s to make way for the Acosta Bridge we know today. The current 1,645 foot long Acosta Bridge opened to traffic in 1993.  It carries six lanes of vehicular traffic and the two-track Skyway Express in the center.  The longest span is 630 feet in length and it has a clearance of 75 feet.

3. John T. Alsop, Jr Bridge (Main Street Bridge)

Image courtesy of State Archives of Florida.

Serving as the backdrop for many postcards, the Main Street Bridge may be the city’s most iconic.  The four-lane bridge opened to vehicular traffic in July of 1941. The Main Street Bridge is a 1,680 foot long steel lift structure, with a vertical clearance of 135 feet when open and 35 feet when closed. In 1957, it was named after Mayor John T. Alsop, Jr. In 1958, the south approach to the bridge was converted into an elevated expressway by the Jacksonville Expressway Authority. 20 years later, in 1978, the bridge’s north approach was modified with several approach ramps to serve a network of one-way streets in downtown. 

Main Street Bridge and Friendship Fountain during the 1960s. Image courtesy of State Archives of Florida.