Supported by a steel superstructure and faced with Euclid bluestone quarried nearby, Forest Hill Park Footbridge traverses Forest Hill Boulevard in East Cleveland on land that was once part of Standard Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller's summer estate. Spanning 347 feet across a deep valley in the Dugway Brook watershed, the 48-foot-high pedestrian bridge was intended to nestle in the hilly landscape of the Heights (the westernmost foothills of the Appalachians) on Cleveland's east side.
Designed by Wilbur Watson and Associates in 1939 with consulting architects F. B. Walker and A. D. Taylor, Forest Hill Park Footbridge was built in 1939-40--the work of more than 1,000 men toiling for two years. The men were paid with Works Progress Administration funds as part of its plan to put unemployed Americans back to work on useful projects. Wilbur Watson was a nationally known civil engineer and bridge designer who also engineered the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge over the Cuyahoga River. Taylor, who planned Forest Hill Park for the Rockefellers, was president of the American Society of Landscape Architects and a protege of the Olmsted firm founded by Frederick Law Olmsted, the "father of landscape architecture" who co-designed New York's Central Park. Taylor's sensibilities are reflected in the picturesque bridge.
Over the years the bridge has suffered. A wire fence "cage" mars its graceful span in the interest of preventing suicides, and pieces of stone have been broken or removed by vandals. Even so, nearly three quarters of a century after it was built, the footbridge still remains a wonderful presence for motorists and park users alike.