Albertus L. Meyers Bridge

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Albertus L. Meyers Bridge
2007 - South Eighth Street Viaduct.jpg
Albertus L. Meyers Bridge in May 2007
Coordinates40°35′47″N 75°28′16″W / 40.5963°N 75.4712°W / 40.5963; -75.4712Coordinates: 40°35′47″N 75°28′16″W / 40.5963°N 75.4712°W / 40.5963; -75.4712
CarriesTwo lanes northbound and one lane southbound of 8th Street, from Union Street to Lehigh Street, and two sidewalks
CrossesLittle Lehigh Creek, Harrison Street, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
LocaleAllentown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Official nameAlbertus L. Meyers Bridge
Named forAlbertus L. Meyers
Maintained byCity of Allentown
DesignReinforced concrete
open-spandrel arch
Total length2,650 feet (810 m)
Width45 feet (13.72 m) (deck width)
Height138 feet (42 m)
Longest spannine 120-foot (36.58 m) broad arches
OpenedNovember 17, 1913
Daily traffic14618[1]
NRHP reference No.88000870[2]
Added to NRHPJune 22, 1988

The Albertus L. Meyers Bridge, also known as the Eighth Street Bridge, the South Eighth Street Viaduct, and unsigned as SR 2055,[1] is a reinforced concrete open-spandrel arch bridge located in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The bridge is "one of the earliest surviving examples of monumental, reinforced concrete construction," according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.[3]

Upon its opening on November 17, 1913, the bridge, then known as the Eighth Street Bridge, was the longest and highest concrete bridge in the world.[4]

The bridge spans the Little Lehigh Creek, linking center city Allentown with Allentown's South Side. The bridge has seventeen spans and is longer than the more massive Tunkhannock Viaduct of the same type.


Construction of Albertus L. Meyers Bridge in Allentown, 1912
Albertus L. Meyers Bridge in 2021

Planning and development[edit]

In 1911, the Lehigh Valley Transit Company in Allentown organized the Allentown Bridge Company for the sole purpose of "erecting, constructing and maintaining a bridge and approaches thereto over the Little Lehigh Creek." The bridge was designed by the engineering firm of Benjamin H. Davis and built by McArthur Brothers of New York City.

Costing in excess of $500,000, construction of the bridge lasted from July 1, 1912 to November 17, 1913 and required 29,500 cubic yards (22,600 m3) of concrete and 1,100,000 pounds (500,000 kg) of metal reinforcing rods. The bridge spans the Little Lehigh Creek for a total length of 2,600'-0". It is an average of 38'-0" feet wide with two 16-0" travel lanes and two sidewalks. The main structure spanning Little Lehigh Creek consists of nine open-spandrel concrete deck arch spans, and there are eight closed-spandrel concrete deck arch approach spans.[3]


Upon its November 17, 1913 opening, the bridge, then known as the Eighth Street Bridge, was the longest and highest concrete bridge in the world.[4]

From its opening until the 1950s, the structure operated as a toll bridge with an automobile toll of five cents.

Electric street car service[edit]

The Liberty Bell Line, Lehigh Valley Transit's electric street car line, which ran from Allentown to Quakertown, Sellersville, Lansdale, Norristown and Philadelphia, ran across the bridge until that interurban service was discontinued on September 6, 1951. The concrete standards that once supported the trolley wire are still standing on the bridge to this day.

Albertus L. Meyers Bridge renaming[edit]

In 1974, the Eighth Street Bridge was formally renamed the Albertus L. Meyers Bridge in honor of Albertus L. Meyers, a well-known conductor of the Allentown Band and a cornet player in John Philip Sousa's band. As a boy, Meyers played in the Allentown Band at the 1913 opening of the bridge that now bears his name.[5]

National Register of Historic Places designation[edit]

On June 22, 1988, the Albertus L. Meyers Bridge was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.[2][6]

Bridge suicides[edit]

In the Lehigh Valley area, the phrase "I'm going to jump off the Eighth Street Bridge" is used variously and kiddingly when facing a seemingly insurmountable challenge or challenges.[7]

Since its 1913 opening, the bridge has been the source for at least 80 documented suicides and an unknown number of suicide attempts.[8] These suicides have become a part of the local culture with claims of ghost sightings on the bridge and a variety of unauthorized makeshift memorials beneath the bridge.[9] The first documented suicide was in 1915 when William C. Kleinsmith, an unemployed boilermaker, jumped off the bridge to his death.[10]

In 2020, seeking to discourage suicidal jumps from the bridge, the city considered adding barriers to make jumping more difficult.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b iTMS: Internet Traffic Monotoring System (Map). PennDOT. Archived from the original on August 23, 2007. Retrieved September 14, 2007.
  2. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. November 2, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "South Eighth Street Viaduct, Spanning Little Lehigh Creek at Eighth Street (State Route 2055), Allentown, Lehigh County, PA (HAER No. PA-459)". Historic American Engineering Record. Retrieved January 11, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b "Historical Allentown". City of Allentown. Archived from the original on October 17, 2002. Retrieved April 23, 2007.
  5. ^ Whelan, Frank (June 8, 2005). "Bridge named after musician – Albertus L. Meyers also was conductor of Allentown Band". The Morning Call. pp. B.07 – via
  6. ^ "National Historic Landmarks & National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania". CRGIS: Cultural Resources Geographic Information System. Archived from the original (Searchable database) on July 21, 2007. Retrieved August 20, 2019. Note: This includes R. J. Baransky (August 18, 1982). "Nomination Form: Albertus L. Meyers Bridge" (PDF).
  7. ^ "I'm going to jump off the Eighth Street Bridge," Pennsylvania Paranorma, February 2, 2016
  8. ^ "BRIDGE OF DESPAIR: Eighth Street bridge scene of nearly 80 suicides,", May 6, 2012.
  9. ^ Call, Pamela Lehman, Of The Morning (May 6, 2012). "BRIDGE OF DESPAIR: Eighth Street bridge scene of nearly 80 suicides". Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  10. ^ "Albertus Meyers Bridge still tallest in city, Allentown structure, at 138 feet, also continues to attract suicides," The Morning Call, August 18, 2004

External links[edit]