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Market Street Bridge – Wilkes-Barre, PA

Through an Act of the Pennsylvania Legislature, the Wilkes-Barre Bridge company was tasked to solicit shares for the construction of the first Market Street Bridge crossing the Susquehanna River. Shareholders of the company met on May 15, 1816 at the courthouse and then later on Public Square.They elected Matthias Hollenback president and Jacob Cist treasurer. The Wilkes-Barre Bridge Company’s first board of managers consisted of James Barnes, Henry Buckingham, George Chahoon, Elias Hoyt, Joseph Sinton and Stephen Tuttle. Serving as Secretary was Benjamin Perry.

The original plans for the bridge were made in 1816 and the project was completed in 1820. The Market Street Bridge was replaced three times to accommodate the changes in transportation and growing population. The second bridge was completed around 1855 and was later replaced by a steel bridge in 1892. It wasn’t until 1928 that the latest bridge would be constructed and open to the public. The 1928 bridge has gone through several major floods and levee projects but is still in good condition and in use today.

The monumental fourth bridge was designed by the prestigious architectural firm, Carrere and Hastings. The design is attributed to Wilkes-Barre native, Colonel Thomas Henry Atherton who worked for the firm. Atherton also designed the New York Public Library in 1911 and is responsible for the Frick Collection, both located on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Colonel Atherton would go on to design the 109th Armory and the Kirby Health Center in Wilkes-Barre.

The most prominent feature of the Market Street Bridge has to be it’s towers, topped by finely detailed eagles. Inscribed on each tower are short dedications to the values of the region. They Read:

PROGRESS
to the CULTURE, begot by splendid schools and teachers, we owe rise in higher realm of mind and spirit.

PROSPERITY
in the INDUSTRY builded by human hand and brain, on our mineral resources, we owe growth, influence and welfare.

PATRIOTISM
to the SERVICE of our heroes sacrificial on land and sea in every war, glorious and forever, unforgot we pay homage.

PERSEVERANCE
to the FORTITUDE of early settlers facing hardship, fearless and unflinching, we owe the origins of what we are.

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