The Dumbarton Bridge

The Dumbarton Bridge

The Dumbarton Bridge, also sometimes referred to as the Buffalo Bridge or the Q Street Bridge, is an historic curved masonry arch bridge in northwest D.C., which conveys Q Street (MAP) across Rock Creek Park connecting the city’s DuPont Circle and Georgetown neighborhoods. The ornate neoclassical bridge with strong influences from Roman aqueducts was designed by Glenn Brown, with engineering design by Daniel B. Luten. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

What most likely would have been a plain and practical bridge had it been constructed during any other era, the Dumbarton Bridge was built in 1914-15 and influenced by what is known as the “City Beautiful Movement.” This reform philosophy of North American architecture and urban planning flourished during the 1890s and early 1900s, particularly in D.C., with the intent of introducing beautification and monumental grandeur in American cities. However, its goal was not just to promote beauty for its own sake, but also to instill moral and civic virtue among urban populations.

To accommodate the bridge’s approach and to keep the street continuous within Georgetown, the Dumbarton House, which at that time was known as Bellevue, was moved about 100 feet northward from its original site in the middle of the current Q Street to its present position on the north side of the street. However, the location of Dumbarton House was not the only construction problem facing the bridge. The proposed sections of Q Street, on either side of the bridge, were not aligned. This necessitated what turned out to be one of the bridge’s most unusual aesthetic features, its unusual curved design.

The bridge is most widely known because of its four buffalo sculptures, which are located on the sides of both ends of the bridge, and appear to be sentries standing guard. The buffalo were designed by American sculptor Phimister Proctor, who also designed the lion sculptures on the nearby Taft Bridge on Connecticut Avenue, and the tigers on the Piney Branch Parkway Bridge on 16th Street.

DumbartonBridge03     DumbartonBridge01

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