by Kate

Living in South Florida we are all too familiar with drawbridges, but it was just over one year ago that I discovered Fort Lauderdale is home to one of few swing bridges that still exist across the globe.  Tucked away in a quiet residential corner of downtown Fort Lauderdale, two historic neighborhoods, Sailboat Bend and Riverside Park, have been connected by the North Fork New River Bridge since it was constructed in 1927.  This historic bridge is the oldest of five in the state of Florida.  Unlike drawbridges, swing bridges rotate on a pivot generally in the center of the bridge, swinging the bridge to allow waterway traffic to pass through on either side.  I’m unsure of the advantages or disadvantages of having a swing bridge, but regardless, it is a unique piece of Fort Lauderdale’s history that deserves some sort of recognition.

The bridge provides easy access to downtown Fort Lauderdale for residents of Riverside Park by allowing them to drive across the New River into the more conveniently located (if you consider downtown access convenient) Sailboat Bend.  Unfortunately for the inhabitants of Riverside Park, the bridge underwent much needed renovations in late summer of 2009 and only just re-opened this past Sunday, August 1st. I’ve rarely had the need to travel to Riverside Park in the past year but for whatever reason, the bridge closure felt extremely problematic.  Maybe because I had some strange desire to drive across the bridge simply because I could not or maybe because I used that as an excuse for not hanging out with a friend that resided in Riverside Park for several months.  All excuses aside, the bridge has now re-opened and there is an opportunity to explore a part of Fort Lauderdale that I know little about.

While Sailboat Bend is primarily a residential neighborhood, Riverside Park has a few commercial businesses and restaurants worth mentioning.  Bozo’s Sandwich Shop is located at 601 SW 12th Avenue and has been around for almost 30 years.  It is across the street from the park (cleverly named Riverside Park) and easily accessible from downtown Fort Lauderdale via the swing bridge.  The Riverside Market Café is located in very close proximity to Bozo’s at 608 SW 12th Avenue.  The café features a wide variety of sandwiches and subs, hot plates, breakfast, and craft brews and is relatively inexpensive.  Because the bridge is now open, this Friday, August 6, The Riverside Market Café is hosting a craft microbrew and food pairing event from 6p.m. to 8p.m.  Though we know few details about this event, admission is only $15.00 and if you are anything like me, you’ll need a couple of cold beers to get your Friday night started.

To access the North Fork New River Bridge, take W Las Olas Blvd west and turn left onto Palm Avenue in Sailboat Bend.

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