We think of the Post Road (Ruth Steinkraus Cohen) Bridge as having been there forever.
It has been — at least since colonial times.
But it hasn’t always been the same bridge.
Here’s what it looked like in 1946.
It was narrower than the present span. There was a guardhouse-type structure — perhaps a remnant of when it actually was a toll bridge, centuries earlier.
But the most intriguing aspect of this photo — taken from the Taylor parking lot near what is now the library Riverwalk, looking upriver — is the water on the right.
This shot was taken several years before Parker Harding Plaza was created. That’s now the parking lot behind Main Street stores. In 1946, the Saugatuck River ran right up to the backs of those shops.
And the sewer pumps from some of them emptied directly into the river.
As I recall, and subject to verification, but the current path of the Post Road, aka State Street, wasn’t laid out until the 19th century. 1820 ish I believe. Before that the Post Road went over Kings Highway, etc.
As a very young child in the late 1950’s, I think I remember the guardhouse type structure (or at least the footprint) still being there. “Harder Parking” Plaza was, of course, established by then.
Then again, I may just be fabricating the distant past.
The “guardhouse-type structure” was for opening the bridge for boats.
The part of the bridge that opened is what you see at the right in the photo. When the bridge was being rebuilt, all traffic – cars and trucks – were re-routed over Kingshighway, the Kingshighway Bridge, and on to Myrtle Ave. I don’t remember if this was before or after they re-built the Kingshighway Bridge. You’re probably going to need one more bridge before long.
The current route 1 crossing over the Saugatuck does not date to colonial times. It was put up up in 1807 by the Connecticut Turnpike Company.The c.1761 Kings Highway bridge crossing holds the honor of being the oldest route over the Saugatuck on the mail route between New York and Boston.
To my knowledge, all of Westport’s sanitary sewers, not just Main Street businesses, flowed into the Saugatuck til about 1961 when the treatment plant was built.
Sewers entering into the water… which today would be illegal… another example of not every regulation being onerous, and a reminder that environment-damaging practices can be halted, to positive effect.
I recall watching from the west side of the bridge as back doors of the stores would open – someone would step out and dump garbage into the river. This was a very common occurrence