10 Interesting Facts About the Francis Scott Key Bridge (Before Its Collapse)

Musical Inspiration 

The bridge was originally named the Outer Harbor Crossing but was renamed in 1977 after Francis Scott Key, the lawyer who penned the American national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner." Key witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, inspiring his famous poem. 

Third Longest Truss 

At the time of its construction (completed in 1977), the bridge boasted the third-longest continuous truss span in the world, stretching an impressive 1,200 feet (366 meters). This innovative design allowed for a strong and efficient bridge structure. 

A City's Lifeline 

The Francis Scott Key Bridge served as a vital transportation artery for Baltimore. It carried six lanes of traffic (three in each direction) and was part of Interstate 695, a major highway connecting the city to other parts of Maryland and beyond. 

Hidden History 

During construction, workers discovered remnants of an old Civil War-era fort on the eastern shore of the Patapsco River where the bridge would connect. These historical artifacts offered a glimpse into Baltimore's past. 

Engineering Marvel 

The bridge's construction required a significant feat of engineering. Workers had to contend with strong currents in the Patapsco River and ensure minimal disruption to maritime traffic during the building process. 

Toll Bridge 

Unlike many bridges in the United States, the Francis Scott Key Bridge had a toll system in place. This revenue helped to maintain the bridge and fund future infrastructure projects in Baltimore .

A Scenic Vista 

The bridge provided breathtaking views of Baltimore's Inner Harbor and the surrounding skyline. It was a popular spot for tourists and locals alike to take photos and enjoy the panorama. 

Lightshow Spectacle 

At night, the bridge came alive with a vibrant light show. LED lights illuminated the structure, creating a dazzling display that added to Baltimore's cityscape and enhanced the bridge's visual appeal. 

Home to Wildlife 

The bridge served as an unexpected habitat for some bird species. Ospreys, known for their impressive diving skills, were occasionally spotted nesting on the bridge's high points. 

A Bridge of Change 

Throughout its history, the Francis Scott Key Bridge witnessed significant changes in Baltimore. From industrial expansion to urban renewal projects, the bridge remained a constant landmark, connecting the city's past, present, and future (until its tragic collapse in March 2024).