Replacing a wooden bridge built in 1909, this 680-foot-long pedestrian suspension bridge was completed in 1930 and spans Kingsbury Run, a wooded ravine on the east side of Cleveland. The pedestrian bridge, and earlier wooden bridge, connected the largely Hungarian Kinsman Road neighborhood to the north and the largely Polish Jackowo neighborhood to the south. Designed by engineer Fred Plummer, the bridge’s construction was funded by prominent local developers the Van Sweringen brothers, who sited facilities for their rail line beneath it.
During the Great Depression, Kingsbury Run became home to a shantytown settlement. A series of murders in the mid-1930s established the area as a hotbed of crime, and the bridge’s use declined.
In the post-war years, African American families began to settle in the Kinsman Road area. Between 1955 and 1959, an urban renewal program cleared 130 acres and resettled families in subsidized housing blocks just west of Kinsman Road. Children, predominately African American, began crossing the Sidaway Bridge to reach schools in the predominately white Jackowo neighborhood. Racial tension between the communities on either side of the bridge came to a head with the Hough Riots in 1966, during which the bridge was set on fire. The city closed the bridge following the incident, a decision later cited by a federal judge as evidence that city officials had segregated schools.
In 2016 community development corporation Burten Bell Carr (BBC) led a planning process that established the need for park space in the Kingsbury Run area. Recognizing the potential recreational and cultural benefits of rehabilitating the pedestrian bridge, BBC launched a campaign with local stakeholders to develop a conceptual design reimagining the site as a neighborhood park. With architecture firm Prospectus, BBC sought national designation for the bridge, and the Sidaway Bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2022.