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Damen Avenue Bridge No Longer Looks Like Hot Dogs

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Aug 19, 2011 2:00PM

In 1999, Chicago Tribune architectural critic Blair Kamin wrote a column titled, "Triumphal Arches: Damen Avenue Bridge Is a Modern-Day Beauty," wherein he pointed out the red arches of the new bridge looked like hot dogs. He called it "an unintended tribute to the Vienna Beef plant."

The column was added to Kamin's book Why Architecture Matters, available on Google Books. Kamin applauded Daley for giving the area a modern touch.

Kamin writes:

The span's predecessor, built in the 1920s, could be raised for the tall-masted ships that once cruised the Chicago River; railroad tracks coursed beneath a clunky viaduct that formed its northern approach. That bridge closed in early 1998, wearied by time and the heavy loads that passed over it.

Now, in its place, are tube-shaped arches that inadvertently recall the sausages made at the nearby Vienna Beef plant. But there's nothing wrong with that. The bridge offers reason to shout, "Hot dog!"

It's one of those things you can't un-see, especially when driving south across the bridge with its complementary neighbor the Vienna Beef plant in full view. But those plump, juicy franks have been given a fresh coat of grey paint, and now they look like a couple of limp, uncooked weisswurst or boudin blanc sausages. Now, we wish we could un-see the hot dog resemblance.

Twelve years have passed since Kamin wrote that and the red had faded to an almost-orange. Graffiti and its subsequent removal also took its toll on the paint job. We took some photos of the bridge's new pale look, but we also found a few photos in the Chicagoist Flickr pool of the bridge in its more colorful days to perhaps whet your appetite.