Joseph Baermann Strauss

17 March 2017

Joseph Baermann Strauss dreamed of having a career in the arts and playing for his university football team. He ended up becoming a prolific engineer known for revolutionizing the design of bascule bridges. Over his career, he helped build over 400 drawbridges across North America, and he is most known for the famous Golden Gate Bridge  in San Francisco and the Jacques Cartier Bridge, an iconic symbol of Canadian architecture.

Did you know that the St. Lawrence once had an ice bridge?

In 1921, two ferries and an ice bridge (in addition to the Victoria Bridge) let people go back and forth between Montreal and the South Shore year-round. When these methods could no longer meet demand, the Montreal Chamber of Commerce and other non-governmental organizations joined forces to lobby for another bridge. With his partners Philip Louis Pratley and Charles Monsarrat, Strauss worked on the plans for the Jacques Cartier Bridge from 1925 to 1930.

Have you ever noticed the Jacques Cartier Bridge’s particular shape?

Interestingly, the new bridge ended up having three curves, one of which was not included in the engineers’ original designs.

The first curve over Île Sainte-Hélène was designed to protect the piers from the St. Lawrence River’s turbulent currents. The second curve, which is to the west of the cantilever span, aligns the bridge with Montreal’s north-south avenues. The third and last curve was not part of the original plans and was added near the western abutment because the owner of a soap factory refused to sell his property to the bridge’s management corporation.

Credit : San Francisco Public Library