Originally called the Douglas Street Bridge, the bridge was built by the Omaha and Council Bluffs Street Railway Company in 1888 and was designed to handle streetcars. It was a toll bridge. As automobiles became more popular, there were resentments about the tolls. A group of businessmen formed the "Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben" ("Nebraska" spelled backwards) to buy the bridge with the intentions of making it a free bridge. They continued to charge tolls until 1947 when it along with the South Omaha Bridge became free bridges. The hated toll booths were paraded through Omaha to celebrate Free Bridge Day on September 25, 1947.
It was replaced in November 1966 with an unnamed I-480 girder bridge (I-480 was to go on and be named the "Gerald R. Ford Freeway" after the native son President). Attempts were made to salvage the bridge as a pedestrian walkway but it was demolished in 1968 although the east pier remains in the river just south of the interstate on the Council Bluffs side.