Cleveland's Abandoned Pedestrian Bridge: The Sidaway Bridge

The Sidaway Bridge was a pedestrian bridge built over the Kingsbury Run that connected two otherwise unconnected neighborhoods in Cleveland, OH; namely the Kinsman Road and Jackowo neighborhoods. Despite its length at 680 feet, it was built solely for use as a pedestrian bridge. In fact, it is the only suspension bridge in the Cleveland area. While it still stands today, it has been closed for over fifty years. (Location on our Abandoned Places map)

Image via the Cleveland Historical Society. "Spanning Kingsbury Run: This 1966 photo, with a view generally to the north, shows the full length of the Sidaway Bridge. It is 680 feet long with a center span of 400 feet. Its 6-foot wide walkway is located 80 feet above Kingsbury Run. The bridge's two support towers are 105 feet tall. One writer noted in 1978 that, while it won no awards when it was built, it is clearly a beautiful structure. Also shown in the photo are the buildings built by the Nickel Plate Railroad for use as car barns for the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit Line." ~ Source: Library of Congress Digital Photograph Collection

The bridge was first built in 1909 as the Tod-Kinsman Bridge, its name was changed a year later. In the 1920's, the Nickel Plate Road (NYC&Stl Railroad) wished to build a car barn beneath the bridge, and demolished the original bridge to do so, replacing it with a new bridge once construction was complete. This bridge was, and remains the only suspension bridge ever constructed in Cleveland.

A shot of the Sidaway Bridge long past its closure date. Image: Architectural Afterlife.

While its initial purpose was to create unity and friendship between different neighborhoods, its existence would prove to have the complete opposite effect. It was the sight of the Cleveland Torso Murders which occurred during the late 1930's, where at least 4 female bodies were discovered dumped off of the bridge.

Even after the murders, the bridge would prove to be a divisive piece of infrastructure, rather than bringing people closer together. The racial composition of the neighborhoods would became an issue in the early 1960's, as more African Americans moved to the Kinsman Road neighborhood, while Jackowo remained mostly white. The bridge was a focal point in the Hough Riots of 1966, as unknown people attempted to burn it down. It has been theorized that this was done to prevent black children from using it on the way to school. Whether this was the intended consequence or not is irrelevant, as the bridge's closure proved to have that effect in the following decades.

While it never burned, wooden planks on the bridge were removed during the riots, preventing its use. Rather than repairing the bridge, and opening it back up to the public, the city decided to just close the bridge to any further use in 1966. 

Sidaway Bridge over the Kingsbury Run in February 2020. Drew Scofield photo.

"The bridge has sat abandoned and quietly collecting rust for all these years, continuing a steady cycle of becoming overgrown in the summers, and frozen in the winters. Many plans have been proposed to restore the bridge, to serve the purpose for which it was built, but all have fallen through to this point. This dilapidated bridge serves as a sad, grim reminder of the horrible divide and awful negativity that racial discrimination can bring." (Architectural Afterlife)

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