The bridge is significant as showing the impact of the City Beautiful movement in Washington and the association of architects, engineers and sculptors with the city's new Commission of Fine Arts. The architects studied photographs of bridges around the world choosing as models a Roman aqueduct and a mountain bridge in Italy with intent to set a precedent for further city bridges. The color of the bridge's stone was intended to evoke the warm tones of Spain and Italy. Along with the buffalo theme the arches are decorated by Indian head designs by Glenn Brown based on a life mask of the Sioux chief Kicking Bear in the Smithsonian.
The curved design is due to need to match the section of Q Street NW in Dupont Circle that is slightly north of the section in Georgetown. To accommodate the bridge’s approach and to keep the street continuous within Georgetown the Dumbarton House, then known as Bellevue, was moved about 100 feet northward from its original site in the middle of the current Q Street to its present position on the north side of the Street.