The Great Cooper River Bridge
The Dream that Connected Charleston to the World
It was once called “the most spectacular bridge in the world!” When it first opened on August 8th, 1929, the great new Cooper River Bridge was the long awaited link between Charleston, South Carolina and its neighbors to the east – Mount Pleasant and Isle of Palms.
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Constructed in just seventeen months, this three-mile long cantilevered truss bridge gained national attention and rivaled some of the world’s greatest bridges in its design and size!
The Cooper River Bridge was named for John Patrick Grace a former two-term mayor of Charleston, South Carolina. It was Grace who became one of primary motivators in pushing for the construction of a bridge across the Cooper River. Upon its completion in 1929, a three-day celebration was held that brought out crowds from both sides of the cooper river to celebrate this magnificent engineering feat!
Many over the years feared crossing the old cooper river bridge because of its height, 150 feet over the main shipping channel; the narrow foot lanes that originally carried two-way traffic; and the low three and a half-foot guard rails that were constructed right up to the edge of the old bridge! There are those who refuse to drive over it to this day!
Due to age and non-conformity with modern highway standards, the old john grace bridge and the more recently built Silas Pearman Bridge, will be dismantled. The huge steel beams and trusses will be transported by barge off the coast of Charleston to create a fishing reef. replacing these bridges will be the new six hundred million dollar Arthur Ravenel bridge scheduled to be completed in early 2006.
“Upon learning of the eventual fate of the original structure, asserts producer Bruce Mayer, I became passionate about creating a history of the old bridge.” The John P. Grace Bridge has commanded such a significant presence in charleston harbor for so many years. Hopefully through this program - The Great CooperRiver Bridge, the memories of the old bridge – both good and bad, will be kept alive for generations to come.”
Commentators telling the story include, Pamela Gabriel and Jason Annan, authors of the recent book The Great Cooper River Bridge, and mayor of the City of Charleston, Joseph P. Riley, Jr.
The program was produced and directed by Bruce Mayer and narrated by Tom Clark. Production assistance by Tommy Burgess and Kim Combs.