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2016 Delaware Valley Hall of Fame Inductee: Frankford Avenue (The King’s Road) Bridge

In 1697, the residents of Lower Dfrankford ave bridge (3)ublin Township in the Colony of Pennsylvania designed and constructed a three-span stone arch bridge with an 18-foot wide roadway to carry The King’s Road across Pennypack Creek. This provided a critical connection for colonial communities to the north, including Trenton and New York. Stagecoach service across the bridge began in 1756. In 1775, a rider from Boston crossed the bridge to bring news of the first battles to the people of Philadelphia of what would later become the American Revolution.

In the early 19th century, The King’s Road became a toll road, redesignated as the Frankford and Bristol Turnpike. In 1854 the City and County of Philadelphia consolidated as one, and the area surrounding the bridge became the Holmesburg section of Northeast Philadelphia. The Turnpike became a major route to the farms and villages of this part of the city. To accommodate growing usage, the bridge was expanded in 1893 with the street grade raised 5 feet and the deck widened to 38 feet, resulting in a 27-foot wide roadway flanked by 5 1/2-foot sidewalks. Tracks were also added at that time to provide a new mode of transportation, electric trolleys.

The current appearance of the Frankford Avenue Bridge reflects its long history. The upstream side of the bridge consists of random stone ashlar blocks, laid out with a decorative stepped stringcourse and projecting buttresses between the three semicircular arches of unequal size. The downstream side shows its later construction date in the smoother, more evenly cut ashlar blocks and thinner mortar joints, although the arch pattern and buttressing system is similar to that of the original bridge. The bridge measures 110 feet by 38 feet and allows for two lanes of traffic to travel over the creek. The Frankford Avenue Bridge was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1970, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. The bridge was extensively rehabilitated in 1984 and remains in use today.