The master plan for the development of the Pennsylvania Capitol Complex was expanded at the close of World War I to include the erection of a colossal bridge which would memorialize those who fought in that War. Such a bridge would punctuate the formal symmetry of the main Capitol building and the four flanking neoclassically-styled office buildings that would evolve by the close of the 1930's. Prior to that time, State Street on Allison Hill descended sharply into the City;s industrial corridor, then onto an iron bridge spanning Paxton Creek and the railroad tracks, and terminated at the old Eighth Ward neighborhood behind the gracious new Capitol that was completed in 1906. Recognizing that such an approach would in no way complement the master plan for the new district of buildings, the Commonwealth retained nationally acclaimed architect Arnold Brunner of New York City, who had already developed the Capitol Complex master plan, to conceptualize the new bridge. Although Brunner produced the basic design, he died in 1925 leaving the final detail work to New York architects William Gehron and Sidney F. Ross who reconfigured and heightened the structure's principal icon elements, the 145-foot high monumental pylons at its western end. Dedicated on August 22, 1930, and built of reinforced concrete faced with heavily rusticated Indiana limestone over a granite base, the bridge's grand arches were highlighted with decorative elements depicting World War I military hardware. After completion, the bridge's memorial was expanded to honor the soldiers and sailors of all American wars.
1929 view looking west toward the evolving Capitol Complex showing the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Bridge under construction.
View from the original State Street Bridge in 1903 into the old Eighth Ward behind the present Capitol Building depicted here under construction.
Circa 1935 postcard view of the completed Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Bridge and majestic pylons.