As the Willimantic River tumbles some hundred-plus feet from the western end of the city of Willimantic, CT, to its eastern end, one can understand why 19th century industrialists chose the location for a thread mill. As the city grew, so did the need for workers to get from one side of the river to the other. Four bridges still cross the Willimantic River in Willimantic, and each of them is a gateway to the city.
The most easterly bridge is now Garden on the Bridge, strictly a pedestrian walkway and park, situated between two former mill buildings that are now residences and office spaces, respectively. This bridge was once a roadway, but with a low-slung rail bridge often proved an obstacle for trucks.
About 200 yards to the west is Thread City Crossing, more fondly and aptly known as The Frog Bridge. With its decorative spools and several brass statues of frogs sitting atop many of the spools (often decorated for holidays), The Frog Bridge not only carries most north-south traffic, but is also one of Willimantic's most famous landmarks.
Another 300 yards to the west is The Footbridge, which is the longest foot bridge in America. This steel span of historical significance was built to accommodate foot traffic from Willimantic's south side to its downtown district. With a small sitting area on Main Street, The Footbridge is a welcoming gateway to downtown.
The most westerly of the four crossings is at this time the most non-descript, a simple two lane road with a single sidewalk for pedestrians, a strip plaza on one side and a local dog training business on the other. However, this gateway to the city is changing fast, as the Willimantic Whitewater Partnership continues to develop a park on the side of a former gas station/oil delivery depot.
Each of these gateways provides a unique landscape and backdrop to the city, and all four of them add to the flavor and tenor of the city of Willimantic.
I am Peter Leeds, and I frequently walk across all of these bridges, sometimes at a single go. If you have questions on city life in Willimantic or country life in Windham, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at Peter Leeds Not Just The Sports Guy. I write often of Willimantic and Windham, the city and town which I have adopted as my own -- 30+ years ago.