The Ben Franklin Bridge was originally named the “The Delaware River Bridge.”
The bridge was constructed by Ralph Modjeski, and designed by Paul Philippe Cret and Leon Moissieff.
It took 4.5 years to build.
Before the Ben Franklin Bridge, there was only one other crossing between Philadelphia and New Jersey, the Delair Ralroad Bridge constructed in 1896.
When opened it opened in 1926, the bridge held the title of world's longest suspension bridge. It is currently the 57th longest.
The bridge toll in 1926 was 0.25 for a car, 0.15 for a horse and rider and 0.30 for a horse-drawn carriage
The Ben Franklin Bridge is a popular image in film. You can see it in the opening credits of the cable TV series “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, and in movies such as:
The Italian Job
The bridge's decorative lighting helps the region celebrate holiday and events such as:
New Year's Eve – Rainbow
Autism Awareness – Blue
Breast Cancer Awareness – Pink
Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, Sixers – Team colors
Pearl Harbor Day– Red, White and Blue
Christmas Day – Red and Green
Hanukkah – Blue and White
Kwanzaa – Red, Green and Yellow
The center span is 1,750' from tower to tower.
Each side span is 717' from each tower to each anchorage.
The Philadelphia approach to the anchorage is 2,000' and the Camden approach to the anchorage is 2,800'.
The bridge is 135' above the river. The towers are 382' feet tall.
The Benjamin Franklin Bridge was originally constructed with 70,851 tons of steel. In 1951, additional roadway lanes were created over areas that were reserved for streetcars/trolley operation. As a result of the modification, an additional 6,500 tons of structural steel were added to the bridge.
Workers installed an average of 200 rivets per day. Once tower sections were delivered to the bridge site, workers installed 145,000 rivets high above the river. 75% of the rivets were installed off-site. The total number of rivets could be in the neighborhood of 750,000 per tower.
If all the individual wires inside the two main cables were connected end-to-end, the wire would circle the earth.
The anchorages had stations built into them to handle passengers using the trolley lines.
Two opening ceremonies were held for the bridge: the July 1, 1926 ceremony which opened the bridge to 100,000 pedestrians; and a second opening ceremony on Monday, July 5, 1926 for Calvin Coolidge, the President of the United States.
The bridge was designed to accommodate six lanes of traffic, two tracks for subway/elevated trains, two track areas for streetcar/trolley operation, and two walkways for pedestrians. The walkways are one of the more popular parts of the bridge for bicycle riders, walkers, and people jogging across the bridge.
The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin reported that the first traffic accident actually occurred before the bridge officially opened. Two individuals ran their car into the back of another car as they were attempting to get ahead in line as the bridge was getting ready to open to vehicles. The driver was fined $25.