Albertus L. Meyers Bridge

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Albertus L. Meyers Bridge
1916 - 8th Street Bridge Looking Northeast.jpg
Postcard (dated 1916) depicting Allentown's Eighth Street Bridge.
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 2 sidewalks
CrossesLittle Lehigh Creek, Harrison Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
LocaleAllentown, Pennsylvania
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]
MPSHighway Bridges Owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation TR
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, in the United States. The bridge is "one of the earliest surviving examples of monumental, reinforced concrete construction."[3]

When opened for traffic on November 17, 1913, the Albertus L. Meyers 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 Allentown's center city with the city's South Side. The bridge has seventeen spans and is longer than the more massive Tunkhannock Viaduct of the same type.


The Lehigh Valley Transit Company organized the Allentown Bridge Company in 1911 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 B.H. Davis and built by McArthur Brothers of New York City. Costing in excess of $500,000, construction of the bridge, which lasted from July 1, 1912 to November 17, 1913, 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 valley 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. There are eight closed-spandrel concrete deck arch approach spans.[3]

The structure operated as a toll bridge from its November 17, 1913, opening until the 1950s, at which time the toll was five cents for an automobile.

The Liberty Bell Line, Lehigh Valley Transit's electric street car line that went to Quakertown, Sellersville, Lansdale, Norristown and Philadelphia ran across the bridge until that interurban service made its last run on the evening of September 6, 1951. On the final return trip from Norristown, in the early morning hours of September 7, car #1006 did not cross the bridge again but went directly to Fairview carbarn, located some distance southwest of the bridge. All rail operations across the bridge ended when the company ceased street trolley service in 1953. The concrete standards that once supported the trolley wire are still standing on the bridge to this day.

Formal naming[edit]

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

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


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] However, like many metropolitan bridges, because of the bridge's height and proximity to a large city population, it has been and continues to be the site of numerous actual suicides.[8][9][10] Since 1913 the bridge has had about 80 documented suicides and an unknown amount of suicide attempts.[11] This has prompted the city to consider adding barriers to make jumping more difficult. 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 underneath it.[12]


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.
  4. ^ "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" (Searchable database). CRGIS: Cultural Resources Geographic Information System. Note: This includes R. J. Baransky (August 18, 1982). "Nomination Form: Albertus L. Meyers Bridge" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Remain Calm,", September 29, 2008.
  8. ^ "Man who jumped from bridge identified". The Morning Call. March 16, 2007. Retrieved April 23, 2007.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ ""Allentown Woman, 58, Leaps to Death from Bridge," The Morning Call, January 22, 2009". Archived from the original on January 29, 2009. Retrieved February 15, 2009.
  10. ^ ""Woman jumps off bridge in suicide," The Morning Call, February 4, 2009". Archived from the original on February 7, 2009. Retrieved February 15, 2009.
  11. ^ "BRIDGE OF DESPAIR: Eighth Street bridge scene of nearly 80 suicides,", May 6, 2012.
  12. ^ Call, Pamela Lehman, Of The Morning. "BRIDGE OF DESPAIR: Eighth Street bridge scene of nearly 80 suicides". Retrieved March 29, 2020.

External links[edit]