Bridge Lifts

It is quite a scene when Michigan Avenue meets the sky.

For current information on viewing a bridge lift, see our EVENTS page.

To accommodate sail boats and other tall vessels traveling between the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, Chicago's bridges open approximately 40 times a year from April to November. Witnessing the Michigan Avenue Bridge opening from inside the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum is quite a treat.

One spectator raved, “Watching the massive Michigan Avenue Bridge rise to the sky from inside the bridge is amazing. Powered by just a tiny 108 horsepower motor, the gears turn, the bridge rises - and you can’t help but be awed by the ingenuity of it all.”

We invite you to experience this engineering marvel up close and personal by attending a bridge lift at the museum.

Tickets details for a Bridge Lift vary per season. Please check our events page to get more details during the Spring and Fall. If interested in a private rental for a bridge lift, please contact Josh Coles at

Please note that even though a bridge lift is scheduled, Friends cannot guarantee that it will take place. The City of Chicago Department of Transportation executes bridge lifts only if sail boats sign up for the run, and factors such as technical malfunctions may cancel a day’s lift.  Refunds can only be made up to two weeks prior to the event.

See the schedule here

Advance registration is recommended for Saturday bridge lifts. For more information or to reserve your spot, call the museum at (312) 977-0227.

Read about bridge lift details and cancellation policy (PDF)

Learn more about the Michigan Avenue Bridge (now DuSable Bridge) at and

Photo credits: Main Branch bridges with sailboats © 2011 Patricia Armell,; Main Strem near Clark Street © 2012 James S Phillips,


Watch the Michigan Avenue (DuSable) Bridge Lift

The complete picture - Gears (filmed in the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum) move the bridge leaf. Video: ©2011 James S. Phillips,