During the Colonial times, the Santiago authorities had to cope with a serious drawback: the closeness of the Mapocho River to the city. From time to time, the river would overflow, causing severe flooding and cutting off communications with the sector known as La Chimba, located on the north bank of the river.
A wooden bridge known as the “Puente de Palo” was the only way to cross over the Mapocho River.
The bridge known as Puente Cal y Canto, however, was the most important engineering work of the Colonial period. Its construction began in 1767; featuring 11 arches, it was around 200 meters long and wide enough to accommodate two large oxcarts side-by-side.
Due to the great river flood of 1888, the Cal y Canto Bridge was considerably damaged and was eventually destroyed. After this, the decision was made to channel the Mapocho River, and some metal bridges, which were highly in fashion in Europe in those days, were ordered from the English company Lever Murphy & Co. and the French company Schneider-Creuseot.
The channeling of the Mapocho River and the arrival of four metal bridges finally provided for the full development of the north sector of Santiago, as it gained direct and easy access to the center of town.
The bridges have different structures: some are curved truss bridges, as the one facing the German Fountain monument in Forestal Park, while others, such as those facing Calle Purísima, are straight truss bridges with curved cross beams at the top.
– Two facing Calle Purísima.
– One facing the Fuente Alemana (German Fountain) monument.
– One facing Calle 21 de Mayo.