Above / Mindful that the Naperville Riverwalk played an attractive part in our decision to move to Naperville nearly 30 years ago, we especially enjoyed connecting a Lego project to the history of the Riverwalk. Thursday evening the project was featured among many in the Open House at Lincoln Junior High School. (Photo by Melvin Kim / Lego “Riverwalk Covered Bridge” by Julian Kim.)

Jan. 31, 2019 / Melvin Kim sent an email with news that students at Lincoln Junior High School were participating in Innovation Day, charged with a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) education project that would connect to the local community.

“Briefly, my 6th grade son has a school assignment where he would like to learn about the history of the Riverwalk bridges,” emailed Melvin Kim. “Both Councilwoman Rebecca Boyd-Obarski and Mayor Chirico mentioned you would have some information … Julian is also planning on building a model of them out of Legos as well.”

Feb. 1, 2019 / I replied with my interest to help, flashing back to countless joyful hours on the floor with our three children, building imaginative marvels with the multicolored interlocking blocks we kept in several large containers.

(Legos also are known for their radiant power in the middle of the night. I recall catching my bare foot on the sharp corner of an errant Lego more than once, a distinctive “ouch” that came when connecting with the construction toy.)

Feb. 2, 2019 / The next day Julian Kim called. He had questions about the three covered bridges and their cost. He also asked about the five vehicular bridges that cross the DuPage River leading toward downtown.

After our conversation, I followed up with more information and link to a 2012 story with photos on this website about Riverwalk bridges and the winding brick path that were created to commemorate Naperville’s sesquicentennial in 1981. 

I mentioned that the late Jim Moser, a local businessman, was instrumental in the early development of the Riverwalk and its covered bridges, helping to underwrite costs for the timber and more needed for the ambitious project that replaced the eyesore along the DuPage River in the heart of downtown Naperville.

The path of the Naperville Riverwalk winds from the Jefferson Street Bridge to the Hillside Road Bridge with the Washington Street, Main Street and Eagle Street bridges, all crossing the DuPage River in between. All five bridges serve vehicles heading to and from downtown Naperville. Currently, the Washington Street Bridge is in a timeline to be realigned and reconstructed in the next couple of years. It’s a huge initiative and likely will cost at least $6 million.

Feb. 5, 2019 / On Tuesday, Melvin sent Julian’s progress with photos of his Lego Riverwalk Covered Bridge.

Julian Kim puts finishing touches on his Riverwalk Covered Bridge, his idea for Innovation Day.

Julian’s Lego model is ready to head to Lincoln Junior High School.

Julian reported that his school had put a restriction on the project, saying that he couldn’t purchase any new items—he had to be innovative and use items he already had. As a result, he took random pieces to build his Lego Riverwalk Covered Bridge.

Feb. 7, 2019 / Julian’s Innovation Day presentation also included photos and a Power Point narrative as well as “More Facts about Covered Bridges.”

  1. The Hartland Bridge in Hartland, Canada, is the longest covered bridge in the world.
  2. The oldest covered bridge in the USA is the Hyde Hall Bridge in New York.
  3. There are six covered bridges in Illinois.

Thursday evening was the Open House at Lincoln. Julian followed up with a comment accompanied with additional photos and slides from his displays that told about his research regarding covered bridges.

 “The 6th grade had Innovation Day as part of the program,” Julian wrote. “Each 6th grader chose a subject that interested them and researched it. At night, each kid had a showcase of what they learned. About 115 people stopped by and took a look at my project.”

Photos courtesy of Melvin Kim. Thanks very much for including the Riverwalk and PN’s Publisher Stephanie Penick.