Originally called the "Calvert Street Bridge", it was designed by Paul Philippe Cret in a neoclassical style and built in 1935. It was rededicated as the Duke Ellington Bridge following the death of the Washington native and famous band leader in 1974. It is a limestone structure with three graceful 146-foot (45 m) arches. There are four sculptural reliefs on the abutments measuring three feet high by four feet wide. The classical reliefs by Leon Hermant represent the four modes of travel: automobile, train, ship, and plane.
Calvert Street Bridge, 1926
The bridge replaced one built in 1891 by the Rock Creek Railway to carry streetcars. The bridge was a steel trestle bridge with wooden decking, 750 feet (230 m) long and 130 feet (40 m) high. To avoid service disruption, the old bridge was moved 80 feet (24 m) south during the construction of the Duke Ellington Bridge; however, streetcar service was discontinued before the new bridge opened.
1922 cartoon depicting the old Calvert Street Bridge