The Congress Avenue Bridge
The Congress Avenue Bridge is one of the most important landmarks in the City of Austin, Texas. Spanning Lady Bird Lake for nearly a mile and a half, the bridge has been an integral part of Austin since it was built in 1869. The bridge connects downtown to East Austin and is home to many cultural events such as music festivals and marathons. The bridge is also the home of "The Bat Bridge" which is the world's largest urban bat colony.
The Congress Avenue Bridge replaced a wooden bridge that was built in 1865 and only spanned one-third of a mile. The current span, which opened to traffic on March 30th, 1874, and cost $77,000 at the time.
The bridge is designed with many unique architectural features, most notably the decorative railings and lighting system. The lampposts are modeled after those in Paris' Place de la Concorde which date back to 1789.
In 1940 it was renamed the Congress Avenue Bridge and in 1956 a bat colony made its home under the bridge. The bats have since become a local attraction and provide an excellent example of nature's efficiency. In 1993, it was designated as Texas Historical Landmark #100014
In 1994 it received the National Register of Historic Places designation from the federal government, which is a part-time residence for up to one million Mexican free-tailed bats. The bridge is also a part of the National Highway System and carries about 60,000 cars per day over Lady Bird Lake.
In addition to its beauty, the Congress Ave Bridge also has an interesting past that includes over 40 suicides and numerous ghost sightings.
The bridge in popular culture
The Congress Avenue Bridge is not only an important part of Austin's history but also one of its most beautiful landmarks. The bridge has been featured in numerous movies and television shows including "Dazed & Confused" which was filmed locally. Visitors are encouraged to walk the length of the bridge or even take a ride on the Town Lake water taxi.
The Congress Avenue Bridge is a significant part of the Austin skyline and has become one of its most popular attractions. The bridge offers visitors views from both sides as well as an excellent view near sunset where you can see "the bat bridge".
The Congress Avenue Bridge remains the longest bridge over Lady Bird Lake to this day.