1913: The Inauguration of a Record-Breaking Bridge in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley Region

November 17, 1913

The Eighth Street Bridge in Allentown, Pennsylvania, was formally opened to traffic. At the time of its debut, this 17-arch structure — measuring 2,650 feet (810 meters) in length and 138 feet (42 meters) in height — was the world’s longest and highest concrete bridge.

This bridge came into existence because the Lehigh Valley Transit Company (LVT) needed a new span across Little Lehigh Creek (the largest tributary of the Lehigh River) to help carry interurban and trolley cars between the center of Allentown and the city’s South Side. LVT organized the Allentown Bridge Company for that purpose and then commissioned the renowned engineer Benjamin H. Davis to design that span. 

The Eighth Street Bridge was used over the next several decades for the Liberty Bell Line, LVT’s interurban route serving Quakertown, Sellersville, Lansdale, Norristown, and Philadelphia. This line made its final runs across the bridge in 1951. A couple of years later, all rail operations across the bridge came to an end and the structure has since been used only for automobile traffic. 

At the bridge’s opening ceremony in 1913, the acclaimed and long-established Allentown Band performed The Star-Spangled Banner. Those performing with the band that day included a young cornet player named Albertus L. Meyers. A close friend of legendary composer and conductor John Philip Sousa, Meyers would achieve fame in his own right as a conductor of the Allentown Band. In 1974, the Eight Street Bridge was officially renamed the Albertus L. Meyers Bridge in his honor. This bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.  (The above postcard of the bridge was created in 1916.)

Image Credit: Public Domain

For more information on the Albertus L. Meyers Bridge (originally called the Eighth Street Bridge), please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albertus_L._Meyers_Bridge

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