Rainbow Bridge (Niagara Falls)

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Rainbow Bridge
RainbowBridge NiagaraFalls.jpg
Rainbow Bridge as seen from Canada, 2013
Coordinates 43°05′25″N79°04′04″W / 43.0902°N 79.0677°W / 43.0902; -79.0677
Carries4 lanes of NY-384.svgNY-104.svg NY 384 / NY 104 / Regional Road 420 (2 each way), pedestrian traffic
Crosses Niagara River
Locale Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, New York
Official nameNiagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge
Maintained by Niagara Falls Bridge Commission
Design Arch bridge
Total length1,450 ft (440 m) [1]
Height202 ft (62 m) [1]
Longest span960 ft (290 m) [1]
Construction cost$4 million [1]
OpenedNovember 1, 1941;79 years ago (1941-11-01)
TollUS-to-Canada only:
3.75 USD/4.75 CAD per auto
($3.25 with ExpressPass/Prepaid NEXUS)
$1.00 USD/CAD per pedestrian/bicycle [2]
Rainbow Bridge (Niagara Falls)

The Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge, commonly known as the Rainbow Bridge, is an arch bridge across the Niagara River gorge. It connects the cities of Niagara Falls, New York, United States (to the east), and Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada (west).



The Rainbow Bridge was built near the site of the earlier Honeymoon Bridge, which collapsed on January 27, 1938, due to an ice jam in the river. A joint Canadian and American commission had been considering a new bridge to replace it, and the collapse added urgency to the project.[ citation needed ]

Engraved text on the bridge includes a biblical reference to rainbows (click on image to read). Rainbow Bridge Canada side.jpg
Engraved text on the bridge includes a biblical reference to rainbows (click on image to read).

A design by architect Richard (Su Min) Lee was chosen (and used again for the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, approximately 10 kilometres (6 mi) downriver). The bridge's Rainbow Tower and Canadian plaza are the work of Canadian architect William Lyon Somerville. [3] King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, during their visit to Niagara Falls as part of the 1939 royal tour of Canada, dedicated the site of the Rainbow Bridge; a monument was erected to commemorate the occasion. Construction began in May 1940. The bridge officially opened on November 1, 1941.[ citation needed ]

The origin of the bridge's name is unknown, with one possible source being T. B. McQuesten, then chairman of the Niagara Parks Commission. An engraving on the Canadian side of the bridge includes a biblical quote from the Book of Genesis which references a "bow in the clouds." Regardless of its origin, the NRBC used the name as early as March 1939. [4]

Description and specifications

The New York State Department of Transportation designates the bridge as NY 955A, an unsigned reference route, while the Ontario Ministry of Transportation designates it as part of Highway 420 (and the original routing of the Queen Elizabeth Way), even though it is separated from the rest of the route by a regional road. On the American side, a number of state and national routes end at a set of intersections in front of the bridge. New York routes 104 and 384, as well as the northern section of the Robert Moses State Parkway, all terminate at the final intersection before the bridge, and none of the designations passes onto the bridge. U.S. Route 62 terminates two blocks north at route 104, which then continues to the bridge. The Rainbow Tower, part of the plaza complex on the Canadian side, houses a large carillon, which plays several times daily.

The bridge permits no commercial trucks; the nearest border crossing for these is the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge. [5]

The toll to cross the bridge for each pedestrian and bicycle is $1.00 US or CAD, and $4.00 US or $5.50 CAD for automobiles as of January 2021. Car tolls are collected when leaving the United States. Pedestrian toll is collected by an automatic turnstile when leaving Canada, payable in U.S. or CAD quarters or $1 CAD 'loonies'. [2] Change machines are available from $1 and $5 US bills and $1 (loonies) and $2 (toonies) Canadian coins.


Rainbow Bridge.jpg
Panoramic view of the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls which connects U.S (on right) and Canada (on left).

See also

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Ontario Highway 405 Highway in Ontario

King's Highway 405, also known as Highway 405 and the General Brock Parkway, is a 400-Series Highway in the Canadian province of Ontario connecting the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) near St. Catharines with the Lewiston–Queenston Bridge in the village of Queenston. It then crosses the Niagara River, where it encounters the international border with the United States and continues into New York as Interstate 190 (I-190).

Ontario Highway 420 Highway in Ontario

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Rainbow Tower

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Queen Victoria Park

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William Lyon Somerville

William Lyon Somerville was a Canadian architect practicing in Toronto, Ontario and Southern Ontario, Canada. He was President of the Ontario Association of Architects, and president of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. He was an accomplished architect who designed hospitals, commercial and institutional buildings, residential buildings. Somerville designed the original McMaster University buildings in Hamilton, Ontario and the Rainbow Tower complex in Niagara Falls. He also designed several monuments, including the Clifton Gate Pioneer Memorial Arch in Niagara Falls and the Henley Bridge and Queen Elizabeth Way Monument for the new Queen Elizabeth Way superhighway built in the late 1930s and early 1940s.


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Celebrating Eight Decades of Award-winning Bridges" (PDF). Modern Steel Construction. American Institute of Steel Construction. November 2011. p. 23 (page 2 in PDF). Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  2. 1 2 "Niagara Falls Bridge Commission: Toll Cost & Vehicle Definitions". Archived from the original on 2014-03-16.
  3. "Somerville, William Lyon". Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800–1950. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  4. Stamp, Robert M. (1992). Bridging the Border: Structures of Canadian–American Relations. Toronto: Dundurn Press. p. 128. ISBN   1-55002-074-9.
  5. "Niagara Falls Bridge Commission: Which Bridge to Take?". Archived from the original on 2007-05-23.

Coordinates: 43°5′24.84″N79°4′3.88″W / 43.0902333°N 79.0677444°W / 43.0902333; -79.0677444