Ambassador Br. / Detroit River

mdot historic bridges Ambassador Br. Detroit River

County:  Wayne

City/Township:  Detroit

Location:  Ambassador Br. / Detroit River

Year Built:  1929

About this Bridge:
The Ambassador Bridge connects the United States and Canada by spanning the Detroit River. It is one of only two suspension bridges built in Michigan and at the time it was completed, was the longest suspension bridge in the world, extending a total of 9,602 feet with approaches. Construction began on May 7, 1927 and was well on its way when it was discovered that there was considerable breaking of the cable wires in the Mount Hope suspension bridge in Rhode Island, where the McClintic-Marshall Company was using the same heat-treated wires that the design for the Ambassador Bridge called for. Work on the Ambassador Bridge was suspended on March 5, 1929 and it was decided to replace all of the heat-treated wire with cold drawn wire. This was a major endeavor, since the main cables were already in place and much of the center span had already been completed, including the stiffening trusses. The main span was dismantled by lowering the stiffening trusses, floor beams, and suspended steel onto barges in the river. The new cables were then erected, and finally, the suspended span steel was replaced. The bridge was opened to traffic on November 15, 1929, nine months ahead of its scheduled opening despite these modifications.

The dedication ceremonies were celebrated by about 100,000 on the American side and 50,000 on the Canadian side. Before the formal ribbon-cutting ceremonies could take place at the terminals, however, the crowds broke through the barriers and rushed to the center of the bridge. There, a substantial steel fence and a large police force prevented both crowds from crossing the international boundary. Hundreds from the unruly throng climbed onto the catwalks that ran alongside the main suspension cables and dangled dangerously from various perches on the catwalks all the way up to the top of the towers. At twilight, the large, enthusiastic crowds finally moved off the newly dedicated bridge.