Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Patrick T. McBriarty  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult; Children;


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Illinois Connection

McBriarty is a resident of Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

McBriarty is a writer and creative producer based in Chicago. His first book was the three-time, award-winning history ''Chicago River Bridges'', which has been praised as entertaining, interesting, and accessible to most anyone interested in Chicago or Chicago history. It was the basis for the PBS documentary ''Chicago Drawbridges'', which he co-produced with filmmaker Stephen Hatch and was broadcast on Chicago and Milwaukee Public Television.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Chicago River Bridges
ISBN: 0252037863

University of Illinois Press. 2013

Chicago River Bridges presents the untold history and development of Chicago's iconic bridges, from the first wood footbridge built by a tavern owner in 1832 to the fantastic marvels of steel, concrete, and machinery of today. It is the story of Chicago as seen through its bridges, for it has been the bridges that proved critical in connecting and reconnecting the people, industry, and neighborhoods of a city that is constantly remaking itself. In this book, author Patrick T. McBriarty shows how generations of Chicagoans built (and rebuilt) the thriving city trisected by the Chicago River and linked by its many crossings.
This comprehensive guidebook chronicles more than 175 bridges spanning 55 locations along the Main Channel, South Branch, and North Branch of the Chicago River. With new full-color photography of existing bridges and more than one hundred black and white images of bridges past, the book unearths the rich history of Chicago's downtown bridges from the Michigan Avenue Bridge to the often forgotten bridges that once connected thoroughfares such as Rush, Erie, Taylor, and Polk Streets.
Throughout, McBriarty delivers new research into the bridges' architectural designs, engineering innovations, and their impact on Chicagoans' daily lives, explaining how the dominance of the "Chicago-style" bascule drawbridge influenced the style and mechanics of bridges worldwide. Interspersed throughout are the human dramas that played out on and around the bridges, such as the floods of 1849 and 1992, the cattle crossing collapse of the Rush Street Bridge, or Vincent "The Schemer" Drucci's Michigan Avenue Bridge jump. A confluence of Chicago history, urban design, and engineering lore, Chicago River Bridges illustrates Chicago's significant contribution to drawbridge innovation and the city's emergence as the drawbridge capital of the world.

Drawbridges Open and Close (PTM Werks)
ISBN: 1941216021

CurlyQ Press. 2014

A selection of the Illinois Reading Council for K-2nd Grade children's books for the 2017 "Illinois Reads" book list!

Experience a day in the life of Bridge Tender Todd and his sidekick Ponticat to learn about the inner workings and individual steps of opening and closing a drawbridge. As the animal characters go about their day, see how the Narrows Drawbridge of the busy town is shared by a variety of fanciful characters, watercraft, and vehicles.

Airplanes Take Off and Land (PTM Werks)
ISBN: 1941216048

CurlyQ Press. 2015

Experience a day in the life of Pilot Stacey and her nephew Little Harry as they take a fascinating flight aboard Crow-Flies Airline flight #6. You will learn, along with Little Harry, all about the inner workings of the airplane, and the many individual steps every pilot goes through before taking off and landing.

City Railways Go Above and Below (PTM Werks)
ISBN: 1941216145

CurlyQ Press. 2016

Chicago-based author Patrick McBriarty created the PTM Werks series for children to share his fascination with how things work. The series debuted with Drawbridges Open and Close (Oct. 2014), then Airplanes Take Off and Land (April 2015) and all three books are illustrated by Johanna H. Kim. The books bring excitement about the inner workings of bridges, planes, and other transportation-related machines to children's literature. Now they turn their attention to city railways.

Join Ben as he rides above and below on the Crosstown Railway with his mom, Train Operator Julia. Ben experiences a day in the life of a train operator, carrying animal characters from suburbs to city and back again. Along the way he gets an inside look at the step-by-step process of how elevated and subway trains work. Young train fans will love this book!

The PTM Werks Series is a great way to introduce STEM/STEAM topics in early childhood for kids, parents, and educators. We hope you enjoy these books and your feedback is alway welcome.


Drawbridges Open and Close

  • ILLINOIS READS Book Selection, Illinois Reading Council, 2017

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

    Chicago River Bridges Program

    This multimedia presentation explores the engineering, architecture, and human dramas surrounding Chicago’s bridges past and present. Take a journey into Chicago’s fantastic bridge history based on the award-winning book of the same title. Learn how today’s bridges evolved from the first simple footbridge built by a tavern owner to Chicago’s emergence as the Drawbridge Capital of the World with stories of floods, fire, politics, and bridge innovations. (All ages; 60 min; $150 negotiable with permission to sell books and DVDs)

    Chicago Drawbridges Program

    Presented by Stephen Hatch and Patrick McBriarty Screen the documentary Chicago Drawbridges as broadcast on Chicago and Milwaukee Public Television with a Q&A by the filmmakers. The 57-minute film chronicles the importance of the bridges in the making of the Windy City, from the first wooden footbridge built by a tavern owner in 1832 to today’s iconic structures over the Chicago River. Approachable, informative, and entertaining, viewers will walk away with an excitement and new appreciation for bridges everywhere. (All ages; 70 min; $150-250 negotiable with permission to sell books and DVDs)