Podgórski BridgeThe Podgórski bridge was built at the mouth of Mostowa Street, on the side of Kraków and Brodzińskiego and Józefińska Streets, the side of Podgórze, close to the Karol Bridge existing in the years 1802 – 1813. The new bridge, designed by the civil engineer Tomasz Kutschera, was built in the years 1844 – 1850 and was the first bridge over the Vistula in Kraków and Podgórze with solid masonry pillars founded in the river.
The construction of the bridge was initiated by the Senate of the Free City of Kraków, but it was strongly encouraged by the Austrians, because the border between Austria and the Free City ran along the Vistula and the Austrians were keenly interested in a road connecting, among others, Podgórze and Kraków, and especially in the planned railway station.
In agreement with the Austrian administration a committee was set up, aimed at developing and preparing the construction of the new bridge. The committee consisted of the inspector of roads and bridges Teofil Żebrawski, Ludwik Hoffman, professor Franciszek Sapalski, road commissioner Binczewski and Tomasz Kutschera - engineer, then an assistant professor in the governmental Directorate of Construction in Galicia, who was represented in the talks the Austrian side. T. Kutschera was eventually entrusted with designing the bridge.
The bridge five wooden spans made of bent larch wood, upholstered at sides with lead sheets and resin-coated. Each of the seven arches of the wooden bridge superstructure consisted of five curved beams and extreme arches was boarded from outside with larch planks. In the river current, four stone pillars were placed.
Ashlar for construction was obtained from Dobrzyce and larch wood was brought, among others, from the area surrounding Sandomierz. First prisoners conducted the stonework, then stoneworkers and carpenters from Silesia. A steam engine with the pump, brought from Gliwice especially for this purpose, was used for construction.
Stone pillars and abutments were supported on wooden grid foundation.
The bridge was opened in 1850 and officially named after Emperor Franz Joseph I (1830-1916), but Kraków inhabitants commonly called it "Podgórze bridge". The length of the structure was 145 m, with the width of 6.8 m. To build access roads to the bridge, it was decided to plan a new Street, named Mostowa afterwards, through the garden of Brothers Hospitallers. This route for nearly 80 years, until the demolition of the Podgórski bridge, became one of the most important communication routes in Kraków.
The bridge served not only for transporting people and goods across the river. In 1864, the bridge was used to connect Podgórze to the gas installation of the nearby Gasworks at Gazowa Street, and from 1882 next to the bridge the first tram line began its course, with route leading through the Market to the train station.