|The Francis Scott Key Memorial Bridge
|Rosslyn section of Arlington County, Virginia, and the
Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. Nathan C. Wyeth
was the architect for Key Bridge. It was built by the United
States Army Corps of Engineers between 1917 and 1923 and
was named after Francis Scott Key, author of the Star
Spangled Banner. The northern terminus of the bridge is just
east of the site of Key's Georgetown home, which was later
demolished, which is now Francis Scott Key Park. Due to
the sometimes very bad traffic congestion on the bridge,
some locals have jokingly referred to it as the "Car Strangled
Spanner," a play on the title of Francis Scott Key's most
The Key Bridge replaced the Aqueduct Bridge. The Aqueduct
Bridge was originally built to carry the Chesapeake and Ohio
Canal across the Potomac to connect with the Alexandria
Canal. After the Alexandria Canal was abandoned, the bridge
was converted into a roadway. The Washington abutment
still survives and is located west of the Key Bridge. One pier
remains and is located in the river near the Virginia shore.
The Georgetown Historic District, roughly bounded by
Reservoir Rd., NW, and Dumbarton Oaks Park on the north;
Rock Creek Park on the east; the Potomac River on the
south; and Glover-Archbold Parkway on the west,
encompassses the area laid out as a prosperous port town in
1751 prior to the establishment of the Distrcict of Columbia,
and later assimilated into the city of Washington in 1871.
Today, the primary commercial corridors of Georgetown are
M Street and Wisconsin Avenue, which contain high-end
shops, bars, and restaurants. Georgetown is home to the
main campus of Georgetown University, the Old Stone
House, the oldest standing building in Washington, and the
embassies of France, Mongalia, Sweden, Thailand, and
|This one was interesting. I get a higher quality of search hits
if I can better describe the target; after a bit of reading, this
turns out to be an open-spandrel deck arch bridge. An image
search with those terms didn't work, but I did by chance
bump into a database of sorts--www.bridgehunter.com. I
applied the open-spandrel filter and the Taft bridge showed
on the first page of results.
I need to be careful with this because there were listings/hits
for more than one "herschel browne" in the D.C.
area. Different people, or just one person who moved?
Anyway, Mr. Browne would apparently like to see more bike
traffic (and less cars) below the bridge on Beach Dr.
|Bridge has a slightly different design. The Key Bridge has
four smaller arches on each side of each main supporting
arch. The Taft bridge has only three.
this week's quiz, "There are obvious superficial similarities
between the Key and Taft bridges, but also pronounced
differences. As you point out, the arches of the Taft Bridge
have three open spandrels on each side of the arch, while the
Key Bridge arches have four. More importantly, the Taft
Bridge's arches are semi-circular, while those of the Key
Bridge are catenary or parabolic. Probably the most obvious
difference, although it might not be apparent in every
photograph one could find, is that the Key Bridge crosses a
major body of water, and the Taft Bridge crosses a large
gorge with only a little stream at its bottom, which much of
the time you could wade across. That's why, in my winter
photograph, you can see a building and some vehicles more
or less under the bridge. (The building is the stables of the
U.S. Park Police.)
"Also, while Key Bridge is one of only two Washington
bridges over the Potomac that are remotely pleasing to the
eye (the other is Arlington Memorial Bridge), it doesn't come
anywhere close to being as beautiful as the Taft Bridge."
|If you have a picture you'd like us to feature a picture in a future quiz, please
email it to us at CFitzp@aol.com. If we use it, you will receive a free analysis of
your picture. You will also receive a free Forensic Genealogy CD or a 10%
discount towards the purchase of the Forensic Genealogy book.
|The Magnificent Taft Bridge
|If you enjoy our quizzes, don't forget to order our books!
|Answer to Quiz #290
January 30, 2011
1. It is the Taft Bridge also known as the Connecticut Avenue Bridge,
across Rock Creek valley in Washington DC.
2. It is the largest unreinforced concrete structure in the world.
3. Herschel Browne lives next to the bridge,
two doors east of Connecticut in the Kalorama triangle.
The photo was taken from the end of his street. It is his favorite bridge.
|1. Where is this bridge located?
2. What makes the design so special?
3. What does it have to do with the contest submitter?
Click here if you want a hint.
|The idea for this quiz was submitted by Herschel Browne.
Note from Herschel Browne:
I'm glad you like my bridge! Washington
has many beautiful structures (although I
dislike some of the most famous ones,
like especially the Lincoln Memorial), but
I think none is as beautiful as the Taft
Bridge. I must say, I wish it were named
something else, though. It was originally
called simply the Connecticut Avenue
Bridge. William Howard Taft wasn't good
enough for the brdige to be named for him. The bridge just to the north, which was
called the Calvert Street Bridge for several decades, was renamed the Duke Ellington
Bridge in honor of one of the great sons of Washington DC not long after he died,
which is more like it.
Here's another picture of the Taft Bridge. (See above.) The one in your quiz is a winter
view from the southeast. This is a summer view from the northwest.
The Taft Bridge, also known as the
Connecticut Avenue Bridge or William
Howard Taft Bridge, is a historic bridge
located in the Northwest quadrant of
Washington, D.C. It carries Connecticut
Avenue over Rock Creek and the Rock
Creek and Potomac Parkway, connecting
the neighborhoods of Woodley Park and
Kalorama. It is situated south of the Duke
Ellington Bridge. It was designed by
George S. Morison and constructed by
The William Howard Taft Bridge took ten
years and $846,000 to build. It was
completed in 1907 and at that time, the
cost was considered outrageous. Looking
back, and considering the price tag for the
current day Wilson Bridge rebuild, it was
about 5% in today’s dollars as the Wilson
replacement at $2.4 billion. The Taft
Bridge is the largest unreinforced concrete
structure in the world, built solely out of
concrete, with no internal steel
reinforcement. In 2000, the bridge was
rehabilitated in 1993-1994 when the
bridge’s concrete lions were removed.
They were finally replaced in 2000.
|Richard Wakeham guessed the
London Bridge, now in Havasu,
AZ. There are some noticeable
differences between the two
bridges, but it was an interesting
answer, as both bridges are arch
bridges. The major difference
between the two bridges,
however, is invisible. The
London Bridge is a reinforced
concrete structure, while the Taft
bridge is not reinforced.
London Bridge is a bridge in Lake
Havasu City, Arizona, United
States, that is based on the 1831
London Bridge that spanned the
River Thames in London,
England until it was dismantled in
|Some of our long time
Quizmasters confused the
Taft Bridge featured in the
quiz, with the Francis Scott
Key Memorial Bridge.
More familiarly known
simply as Key Bridge, it was
named for the author of the
American national anthem.
The bridge was built
between 1917 and 1923 and
takes traffic over the
Potomac River between the
District of Columbia and
According to Herschel
Browne, the submitter of this
|Top: London Bridge,
Lake Havasu, AZ;
Bottom: Taft Bridge,
1967. The Arizona bridge is a reinforced concrete structure
clad in the original masonry of the 1830s bridge, that was
bought by Robert P. McCulloch from the City of London.
McCulloch had exterior granite blocks from the original
bridge numbered and transported to America, in order to
construct the present bridge in Lake Havasu City, a planned
community he established in 1964 on the shore of Lake
Havasu. The bridge was completed in 1971 along with a
canal, and links an island in the lake with the main part of
Lake Havasu City.
|Congratulations to Our Winners!
Nicole Blank Daniel E. Jolley
Mary Fraser Margaret Paxton
Peter Norton Robert J. Steinmann, Jr
Nelsen Spickard Alex Sissoev
Marilyn Hamill Margaret Waterman
Stan Read Harold Atchinson
Jim Bullock Diane Burkett
|Comments from Our Readers
I am obsessed with bridges (which is why I already knew about the bridgehunter site)
and two of my faves are the Duluth Aerial Lift bridge and the Mackinac bridge, though
they're too familiar to ever be used as a mystery quiz. Bridges are like works of art to
me. Nicole Blank
It seems like Herschel Browne is very passionate about the bike lanes in Washington,
DC, and the Taft Bridge in particular. Is it fair to assume that he lives around there? I
know he's taken his bike across the bridge a couple of times. (I'm assuming this
question is about the bridge and not the design. If it is about the design, maybe it could
accommodate a few bicycle lanes...) Alex Sissoev
I am not surprised Herschel is obsessed. I suppose if I didn't have the Olympic
Mountains and the Puget Sound to look at that I would focus on a bridge and a river.
|Concrete arch bridge over Rock Creek on Connecticut |
|Built 1907; rehabilitated 1995|
|Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on |
July 3, 2003
|NRHP 03000584 (Natl Reg Historic Places ref number)|
DC 29 (District of Columbia bridge number)
BH 12242 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
|Satisfactory (7 out of 9)|
|Satisfactory (7 out of 9)|
|Average daily traffic (1992)||
|The Francis Scott Key Bridge,
or, more commonly, the Key
Bridge, is a reinforced concrete
arch bridge conveying U.S.
Highway 29 traffic across the
Potomac River between the
|Top: Taft Bridge
Bottom: Key Bridge
|How Harold Solved the Puzzle
Herschel Browne, Kalorama Triangle
Jack McKay writes in the last themail of the residential parking permit system's four
severe flaws. While I agree that all the things he lists are indeed severe flaws, there are
even worse problems with this stupendously ill-conceived system. The biggest flaw is
that the system shuts down at night, which is when it's hardest to find a place to park
in residential neighborhoods. On any given evening, approximately 15 percent of the
vehicles on the streets near my home have non-DC tags. These may very well be
owned by residents, but if they live in Washington they should register their cars here.
The second huge problem is the utterly ridiculous size of the zones, and the fact that
they are coextensive with the DC council wards, which means that they change every
ten years. I live two doors east of Connecticut in Kalorama triangle. The super-rich
neighborhood to the west of the avenue was moved from Ward 1 to Ward 2 as a result
of the 2000 census, so now someone who lives in Georgetown or Shaw or downtown
can park over there all day, but I, who live a block away, can't. What kind of sense
does that make? Especially given the fact that nearly everyone who lives in Kalorama
Heights has off street parking for multiple cars. Some of those mansions over there
have room for six or eight cars off street. Finally, there's the matter of enforcement.
The RPP restriction has gone almost totally unenforced in my neighborhood for nearly
three years. Every day, commuters from Maryland and Virginia park their cars on my
block and walk to Woodley Park Metro or to work, and they are never ticketed. But let
one of us poor slobs who live in the triangle — unable to park because of all the
commuters — give up and park on the other side of the avenue, though . . . the rich
folk over there actually get some enforcement.
Someone mentioned the system in the South End of Boston, and I agree: that's a much
better way of doing things. By neighborhood, not council ward. Twenty-four hours a
day. A few spaces set aside for visitors.
Don’t Cry for New Lanes, Calvert Street
It’s curious that another segment of Calvert Street is going to have on-street bike lanes.
The current bike lanes on Calvert Street from the Ellington Bridge up to Adams Mill
Road are the only lanes I know of in the city. Why does Calvert Street so cry out for
Actually, I find it hard to believe that any serious bicycle advocate would spend time
lobbying for these particular lanes. Calvert Street is very wide and is not a particularly
important commuter route. Putting in bike lanes is a low-cost, low-pain sop to the
cycling community instead of doing anything effective to make Washington bicycle-
Calvert Street was already so wide that it was easy for cyclists to share the road. The
Taft Bridge is where accommodation for bicycles is badly needed, but it’s not wide. It
is also an important commuter route (mostly for people who live in Maryland, of
course), so bicycles were not accommodated when the bridge underwent its massively
expensive rehabilitation. To suggest, as Greg Jones does, that no accommodation for
bicycles should be made because cyclists, as a class, routinely violate traffic regulations
is absurd. Drivers routinely violate traffic regulations. Would Greg also like a
moratorium on accommodations for drivers? At least when bicyclists break traffic
regulations they’re not operating a lethal machine weighing thousands of pounds.
Bridge research seems to be taking a lot of
my time recently. I just finished locating
this bridge with my maternal grandparents
on their honeymoon. It is the Lincoln
Bridge, part of Platt National Park and the
Chickasaw National Recreation Area near
Sulphur, OK. http://tinyurl.com/4u4fejq
I narrowed my search for the Taft Bridge
by using the terms "open spandrel arch
bridge". I still had to go through quite a
few to find the picture. It was number 81
on the list of pictures I looked at.
"Spandrel" is a term I came across in
earlier research on bridges. Bridgehunter
is a useful site for searching bridges.
I also found a lot about Herschel besides where he lives in DC such as his place of
employment, where he went to school, and his political contributions. We have several
things in common including one of my former employers. Jim Bullock
Living in the neighborhood, Herschel Browne may have taken the photograph, which
shows some horse trailers and (probably) Edgewater Stable in the foreground, and
(definitely) the Omni Shoreham in the background. Herschel Browne also mentioned the
Taft Bridge in a letter to DCWatch in 1997. Leslie Shapard
I should be kicking my own butt because I drove across [the Francis Scott Key] bridge
almost every day after I graduated from High School in 1957. I got a job selling schools
in VA just over the "Key" bridge and had to commute from Wheaton MD through DC
and over to VA.
To solve the puzzle, I had first to solve the misspelling of Herschel Brownes name so I
could find where he might have lived. By re-reading almost all of the quizzes I
determined it was not Bowne but Browne and I did a 123 People search to find where
Herschel lived. Jim Kiser
N.B. Jim maybe you should kick your butt a little harder. It's not the Key Bridge.
- Q. Gen.
The Kalorama Triangle is a residential enclave in Northwest
Washington bounded by three major thoroughfares:
Connecticut Avenue, Calvert Street, NW and Columbia
Road. Bordering on Rock Creek Park this area enjoys a
reputation for its natural attributes—its hilly terrain, cool
breezes and fine views over the city of Washington, as well
as the close-knit village-within-a-city character of the
community. Developed largely between 1897–1931, the
neighborhood is filled with architecturally significant free-standing and attached houses,
commercial buildings, and a variety of modest and grand apartment buildings sited
along curvilinear tree-lined streets. Kalorama Park is located in the Kalorama Triangle.