When the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway was built through the west end of the already built up City of Hamilton in the summer of 1895 , several streets were bisected completely. The railway company built wooden bridges to reconnect streets such as Pearl Street.
On Saturday afternoon, July 29, 1965, a 14 year old boy deliberately set fire to a bushel basket containing rubbish which was standing near the Pearl street bridge. The fire quickly spread to the dried grass and then onto the bridge, causing serious damage to the structure.
In the first two images, the bridge is seen on fire, and also seen is a large crowd of neighbouring residents gathered to witness the excitement.
The bridges were the responsibility of the railway company to maintain and repair generally, but the railway company proved to be reluctant because the damage was the result of arson. The estimated amount needed to fully repair the bridge was $75,000 (1956 dollars)
In the above image, taken in March 1961, the bridge was still unrepaired, and closed off, with neither cars nor trucks allowed to use it.
The bridge would ultimately never be repaired and more many years was only used by pedestrians and bicyclists.
Now even those uses are not possible, although the 1895 bridge is still in place.
Photos courtesy PreVIEW, Local History and Archives, Hamilton Public Library.