If you’ve been around Western and Belmont lately, you’ll know that the overpass there is gone. The viaduct that carried Western Avenue over the intersection was built in 1962, to aid traffic flow at the adjacent Riverview amusement park. Riverview closed five years later, but the viaduct stayed in place.
In 2013 the city decided to tear down the crumbling structure, rather than replace it. I wrote about this in one of my last WBEZ stories. Now they’ve finally gotten around to doing so.
Most planners didn’t worry much about aesthetics a half-century ago. Or if they did, they argued that form must reveal function, without any sort of artificial embellishments. I always thought this was just an excuse to cut costs. Let’s face it—the overpass here was ugly.
I’d already taken a number of photos on and around the overpass in 2011, and I ran a couple of them with the article. I’m posting a few more now, because they will have some historic significance. Two of the vistas will never be available to you again—unless you get a snorkel lift.
Plans for the revamped intersection certainly look good on paper. I do wonder what traffic will be like here in the future. Only time will tell whether we have now gone too far in the other direction, and sacrificed function in favor of aesthetics.