Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
Since today is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, it is a good day to pay tribute to the Lincoln Avenue Viaduct. This arched bridge is traversed by thousands of cars each day, with most having no idea the name of the structure. The Lincoln Avenue Viaduct is the arched bridge connecting LaHarpe with Cantrell Road which (literally) bridges downtown with the west along Highway 10.
The Lincoln Avenue Viaduct is a reinforced concrete rainbow arch bridge. It was opened at 2:05 p.m. on Friday, December 28, 1928, and, despite later alterations, it remains particularly well-preserved. The Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, considered the most important railroad company in the state, constructed the bridge amid a series of improvements in Little Rock made necessary by the damage wrought by the infamous spring floods of 1927.
Though the bridge was constructed by the railroad, the City had to give authorization to do so, this was accomplished by the passing of Ordinance 4,335, at the May 28, 1928, City Council meeting.
Lincoln Avenue was one of several names for stretches of Highway 10 in Little Rock. By the 1960s, the areas west of the Lincoln Avenue viaduct were all renamed Cantrell in honor of the man who had developed much of the area west of the Heights. The longest stretch of the road already carried that name. There had been an effort to rename Highway 10 (including sections named Lincoln, Q, and Cantrell) in Little Rock for Senator Joseph Taylor Robinson in 1930. He declined the offer because he did not want to diminish the contributions of Mr. Cantrell. Over time the entire stretch bore the name Cantrell.
The stretches east of the viaduct which involved a couple of names were renamed La Harpe Boulevard in honor of the French explorer who first saw the Little Rock. (La Harpe was originally an extension of Riverfront Drive. But with changes to development along the Arkansas River and the coming of I-30, the streets were reconfigured significantly in the 1950s and early 1960s.)
Though the street has been renamed, the bridge still carries the name of the 16th President of the United States.