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New pedestrian bridge over Chicago River sounds like it’s playing a harmonica when strong winds hit it just right

The sound is an unintended but the smile-inducing result of the bridge’s design.

The 312 River Run bridge spans the Chicago River between Addison Street and Irving Park Road.
The 312 River Run bridge spans the Chicago River between Addison Street and Irving Park Road. When winds hit it just right, it makes a sound like a low-pitched harmonica.
Mitch Dudek / Sun-Times

Performances are rare. And no requests, please. It’s a bit of a diva, really.

The “music” made when gusting winds sweep through the unique railing slats of a new pedestrian bridge spanning the Chicago River on the North Side is free to all hearty souls willing to endure the elements for a listen.

“It’s pretty cool. It sounds like a harmonica,” said Nelson Dueck, a construction engineer with AECOM, who oversaw the project for the city. “I’ve only heard it once on a really windy day, but the sound is unmistakable.”

The precise wind speed and direction needed to get the harmonica humming is unclear.

“It’s low pitched, a nice sounding tone, not something I think the public would get aggravated at or get bugged at,” Dueck said. “It’s a cool, unintended feature of the project.”

The bridge, which opened in late October with little fanfare, connects Clark Park near Lane Tech High School to California Park to the north. The path leading to the bridge goes under the Addison Street bridge, allowing users to avoid the busy roadway.

“The bridge is making ‘music,’” joked Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Unfortunately, it was was silent when a Sun-Times reporter walked across it Thursday in light wind conditions.

Another phase of the project — dubbed the 312 River Run — will eventually extend the path underneath the Irving Park Bridge to Horner Park, allowing users to avoid yet another busy street.

The effort is part of the city’s broader goal to create an uninterrupted bike and pedestrian path along the Chicago River.