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Ravenel Bridge — Charleston, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Charleston County  |  Ravenel Bridge

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Ravenel Bridge

The Arthur Ravenel Bridge opened during a week-long celebration in July 2005. This eight-lane, cable-stayed bridge with two diamond-shaped towers allows clearance for modern ocean freighters to access the port of Charleston.

Ravenel Bridge with Light Trails

Justin Mackie of Charleston, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Its predecessors, the historic Grace Bridge and the Pearman Bridge, were a beloved part of the Charleston skyline for almost 80 years. Over time, however, they became obsolete and unsafe for travelers.

Arthur Ravenel Bridge

Steve Rich of Aiken, 2018 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Charleston politician Arthur Ravenel spearheaded the campaign for a new bridge to be constructed over the Cooper River, replacing the old bridge. The new bridge provides more than traffic relief to residents – it also has a bike and pedestrian lane, and the world-famous Cooper River Bridge Run is held here every year.

Arthur Ravenel Bridge at Night, Aerial

Scott Krause of Columbia, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Grace and Pearman Bridges – A Brief History

The Grace Memorial Bridge was known fondly (and also somewhat fearfully) by locals as the “Old Bridge.” Its two narrow lanes (10 feet each with no curbs or median) opened for traffic on August 8, 1929, as a toll bridge costing 50 cents per trip. This toll was used to pay for the bridge’s $6 million price tag; it was owned and operated by a private company named Cooper River Bridge, Inc. The president of this company, Charleston native John P. Grace, later served as its namesake.

Old and New Cooper River Bridges

Michael McLaughlin of Johns Island, 2004 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Prior to 1929, people needing to travel between Charleston and Mount Pleasant did so by private boat or ferry. The bridge actually crosses two bodies of water – the Cooper River and Town Creek. In all, its length measures 2.71 miles; it is 15 feet higher than the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. At the time of its construction, it was the largest bridge of its kind in the world.

Cooper River Bridge Sunset

Michael Capewell of Mt Pleasant, 2005 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

27 years later, in 1946, the state of South Carolina purchased the bridge and eliminated its toll. As it happened, a 10,000-ton freighter named “Nicaragua Victory” rammed into the bridge that same year. It ripped out a 240-foot section, causing Elmer Lawson and his family to fall into the water below.

Cooper River Bridge Historic

Kenneth Dodds of Charleston, 1975 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Another bridge was built in 1966 alongside the Grace Bridge, and it was named for then-highway Director Silas N. Pearman. Most people, of course, knew it simply as the “New Bridge.”

Old Cooper River Bridges

George Penington of Charleston © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Reflections on the Ravenel Bridge

Contributor Jon Snyder shares about capturing his photo, “I drove 1.5 hours from Myrtle Beach to get a shot of the full moon setting over the Arthur Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, SC. I had it all planned out! The moon was supposed to set about 35-45 minutes before sunrise. I just knew there would be some great color with the partly cloudy forecast. What I did NOT plan for was fog! The low-lying fog was so thick, I could not see the bridge from my planned spot. I was pretty upset. I had arrived early (as you always should) and needed to head to a nearby store to grab a snack. I took a wrong turn and ended up going over the bridge. To my surprise, the fog cleared as I ascended the bridge. I ended up Shooting ON the bridge, and my moon shots were no where near my expectation. But when the moon set…Heaven opened up behind me with predawn color blazing the sky! The low-lying fog made it feel as if the bridge was floating in the clouds! After a few snaps…I got this masterpiece that I’m sure will be one of my best shots this year!”

Ravenel Bridge Cooper River

Jon Snyder of Surfside Beach, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Linda Brown says of her photo below, “I particularly liked this shot of the Ravenel Bridge taken from Waterfront Park because of the streams of water shooting out of the boat as it passed under the bridge.”

Ravenel Bridge Waterfront Park

Linda Brown of Kingstree, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Matthew Pautz shares of his photo: “This is a photo of the Arthur Ravenel Bridge as seen from the Cooper River Room 30 minutes after sunset. This was taken during a wedding at that location, and the silhouette of such a large and beautiful bridge against the natural sunset is very interesting to me.”

Ravenel Bridge Dusk

Matthew Pautz of Greenville, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Building the Ravenel Bridge

Project plan, construction details – PDF
Overview of major players – includes links to architects, contractors, etc
Contract awarded to Palmetto Bridge Constructors

More Pictures of the Ravenel Bridge

Ravenel Bridge at Sunset

Jim Epper of Charleston, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Charleston Peninsula Aerial

Ben Sumrell of Awendaw, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Night Scene, Ravenel Bridge

Ben Sumrell of Awendaw, 2019 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Ravenel Bridge Aerial

Benton Henry of Latta, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Arthur Ravenel Bridge

Meridith Bergesen of Beaufort, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent


Mark VanDyke of Herndon, VA, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Ravenel Bridge with Cargo Ship

Tom Fernandez of Summerville, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

New Cooper River Bridge

Dave Allen of Hendersonville, NC © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Ravenel Bridge in Charleston

Donnie Smith of Moncks Corner, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Arthur ravens Bridge Charleston

Jimmy Cledaras of Mount Pleasant, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Lightening Strikes Ravenel Bridge

Jacob Kupferman of Mt. Pleasant © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Arthur Ravenel Bridge

Andy Hunter of North Augusta, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Cooper River Bridge at Dusk

Jacob Kupferman of Mt. Pleasant © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Ravenel Bridge Info

Address: US 17 between Charleston and Mount Pleasant, SC
GPS Coordinates: 32.802842,-79.914924

Ravenel Bridge Map

Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you enjoy this page? Do you have any information we should add? Send us your comments below — we can't wait to hear from you!

20 Comments about Ravenel Bridge

Herman Rusche says:
September 2nd, 2019 at 10:08 am

I’d like to see a photo of the bridge deck in daylight showing the pedestrian/bicycle lane.

a weekend in Charleston - Chelsey Colon says:
October 30th, 2018 at 12:46 am

[…] much! We walked the Ravenel Bridge Saturday morning to watch the sunrise, which was so cool! I was kind of nervous because I […]

Everaldo Silva says:
October 29th, 2017 at 2:48 pm

How much money was saved from the original budget of the Ravenel Bridge? Thanks!

Carson Bane says:
April 28th, 2017 at 11:04 am

I have to go to MUSC every monday.

MAYA says:
March 18th, 2016 at 7:58 am

This is really interesting.

SCIWAY says:
November 2nd, 2015 at 9:23 am

Hi, Pat. You will need to contact the photographers themselves via their websites. Most can be reached through links by clicking on their names beneath their photos. If there is a photo you wish to use and the photographer does not have a website, please let us know, and we will try to get contact information to you. Good luck!

Pat Krapf says:
October 31st, 2015 at 5:45 pm

How do we get consent to use any of these superb photos?

Patricia Abrahamson says:
April 25th, 2017 at 12:40 pm

If you have a chance, park on the Mt. Pleasant side by the Visitors Center. I am 68, and I absolutely love walking the bridge! I could be a POSTER CHILD for walking it. But I more like senior SWAG. My longest walk was a cold January day. I prefer cooler weather to walk the bridge. I put in 14 FITBIT miles. Like Forrest Gump, I kept on walking, until I noticed the impending sunset.

Lynn Hall says:
September 4th, 2015 at 1:22 pm

I love the fact that you can walk across. I walked accross the bridge in Little Rock by the Clinton Museum, and enjoyed it so much. I am hoping I will get the chance to walk across this one. It is a very impressive bridge.

Gotchaplumber Plumber says:
August 17th, 2015 at 11:48 pm


Laurie Glenn Espinoza says:
June 23rd, 2015 at 9:22 pm

Enjoy these great pics of the Cooper River Bridge, a/k/a the Ravenel Bridge, here in Charleston. 🙂

(I commented at sciway.net on April 16th, before I joined Facebook.)

Laurie says:
April 16th, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Being MUCH wider than the two older bridges, Kathy, the new bridge is much less scary! In fact, I don’t find the new bridge scary at all. And I think we all probably agree that the new bridge is much more beautiful to look at. I love Stephen Faucette’s picture above, too, of the white, gaff-rigged (and I’m guessing, wooden?) schooner – reminds me very much of the one I lived on with my family-of-origin from Autumn 1974 through Spring 1977, when I was a teenager. Navigating the Intracoastal Waterway as we came down the East Coast from Maine, in Autumn 1975, was the first time I ever visited Charleston. Moved here in the late-1980s and have been here ever since.

SCIWAY says:
March 4th, 2015 at 9:59 am

The bridge was built by Palmetto Bridge Constructors, Inc., a design-build firm, with Parsons Brinckerhoff of NYC as a design partner and with consulting by MacDonald Architects of San Francisco. Other details are as follows, according to Associated General Contractors: Eight 12-ft-wide traffic lanes; 1,546-ft main span; 5 75-ft-tall towers; road deck rises 200 ft above the median high-tide mark; 128 individual bridge cables; cables formed by 90 seven-wire strand, each cable holds more than 1 million lbs.; white pipes range in diameter from 12 to 20 in.; 12-ft bicycle and pedestrian lane; 300,000 cu yd of concrete; 50,000 tons of reinforcing steel; 40,000 tons of structural steel; more than 400 drilled shafts .

dfghj says:
March 3rd, 2015 at 1:21 pm

How long did it take to build? Total steel and wire weight? Total concrete weight? Bridge type? Engineer?

Emma L Middleton says:
August 25th, 2018 at 7:20 am

I had relatives in both Charleston and in Mt. Pleasant. I went across the bridge a lot as a child and was always afraid of it. The new bridge is nothing like the old bridge, I think it is simply awesome! You really should give it a try.

Kathy Robertson says:
April 12th, 2014 at 8:35 pm

My family and I lived in Charleston from 1959 through 1963. There was just one bridge then. It was kind of scary.
The new bridge is beautiful. I have never been across it and I am not sure if I want to.

Mark VanDyke says:
December 16th, 2013 at 11:44 am

Hey John,

That’s awesome that you were part of the construction crew that built the bridge! I worked in healthcare construction for a number of years and understand the experience of building something that will be with a community for many years. If you’re interested in purchasing a photograph of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge I have several in my gallery at Fine Art America: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/mark-vandyke.html. The site includes a 30-day money-back guarantee on all purchases. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

John says:
September 11th, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Where can I get picture hanging for my wall of the Ravenel Bridge? I was a construction worker on the bridge. Needless to say, it was quite an experience.

Lydia Pappas says:
October 16th, 2012 at 10:15 am

Wonderful pictures of the new bridge and nice to see the links to video and pictures of the old bridge as well – glad to see this up here, showing the history of the area, old and new!

Jenny says:
April 3rd, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I just love these pictures of this bridge — very beautiful!


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