The Creative Werks of Patrick T. McBriarty
Patrick T. McBriarty a former business person began writing and creating over a decade ago and is now pursuing a second career as an author and producer.  It started with a fascination for the history and design of Chicago's bridges and evolved into creating a book and documentary, and now children's books.  The core of it is an enthusiasm for learning and research to create and share the knowledge and fascination for how machines work in informative, fun, and entertaining way.  Enjoy. 

Latest Werks
The new children's picture book Drawbridges Open and Close shows the behind-the-scenes, controls, locks, gears and steps to reveal how a drawbridge operates.  Published by CurlyQ Press (Oct. 2014) and soon followed by Airplanes Take off and Land (early 2015) and Crosstown Trains Stop and Go (early 2016), and distributed by Ingram Books and Applewood Books.

Drawbridges Open and Close beautifully illustrated by Johanna H. Kim, presents a fanciful world of animal characters, vehicles and watercraft and begins with Tugboat Captain Josie (a kangaroo) owing a big barge and needs the Narrows Drawbridge to open.  Bridge Tender Todd (the fox) and his
sidekick Ponticat respond by following six steps to
safely open the drawbridge.  Meanwhile the impatient TerryTurtle in his sports car gets stuck waiting at the bridge.  Will he ever get across?  This book is the first in the PTM Werks Series designed to answer the “why” questions kids often have about how the machines all around us work, that most adults struggle to answer completely.  

Autographed copies are available for sale below -OR- at one of the many author appearances listed on the Talks & Events pageDrawbridges Open and Close is also available at Barnes and Noble, finer bookstores, and on where every review gives the book 4- or 5-Stars. Kids enjoy reading this book over and over again.  What a great gift for birthdays or holidays to share with someone you love!
A Little About Patrick McBriarty

Over a decade ago Patrick McBriarty discovered a new focus and fascination for Chicago’s bridges.  His first book , presents the untold history and evolution of Chicago's bridges, from the first humble footbridge to the iconic moveable steel and concrete structures of today. It reveals a city, that at its heart is the world center for drawbridge design and innovation.  Chicago without its bridges to connect and reconnect the people, culture, industry, and neighborhoods would not be what it is today. The book captures the engineering and architectural significance of the bridges and presents the people, stories, and legends of Chicago's fantastic bridge history.  Chicago River Bridges was published by the  in October 2013 and received the 2013 Henry N. Barkhausen Award for original research on Great Lakes Maritime History.  With more than 200 images and beautifully laid out, this 344-page, full-color, hardback, coffee table book makes a great gift.  For a review check out

Patrick also recently completed with Chicago filmmaker Stephen Hatch the documentary, , which they independently produced and first aired on Chicago and Milwaukee public television in 2013.  It chronicles the importance of the bridges in the making of the Windy City from the first wood footbridge, built by a tavern owner in 1832, to the iconic structures of today crossing the Chicago River. 

Patrick's first children's picture book  is about big, red, small, steel, railroad, and many other kinds of bridges from around the world. This full-color children’s picture book presents over 50 photographs that amaze and delight children and adults alike. It shows the great variety of types, shapes, colors, materials, uses, and life cycle of bridges. The prominent feature of each bridge from 22 different countries is described with its geographic location.  It provides a great cross-section of the many and varied bridges and bridge types all over the world.  This is an eBook on Apples iBookstore and printed copies may be purchased above.

Book Cover Drawbridges Open and ClosePatrick is currently working on the PTM Werks Series of children’s books with illustrator Johanna Kim.  The idea of this series is to show the behind-the-scenes and inner workings of machines that are all around us to answer the why's and how's kids often ask, even most adults can't completely explain. 

The first book in the series is Drawbridges Open and Close, which introduces Bridge Tender Todd (a fox) and tugboat captain Josie (a kangaroo) towing a big barge and request the drawbridge open.  Meanwhile the impatient Terry Turtle in his sports car approaches and is forced to wait as Bridge Tender Todd follows the six steps to safely open the bridge and close the bridge.  wonderful illustrations show the locks, gears, and controls and the variety of fanciful animal characters, vehicles, and watercraft the pass over and through the busy Narrows Drawbridge.  The book is recommended for children 3-years old and up and will be in stores in October 2014 from CurlyQ Press and distributed by Applewood and Ingram Books.

The second book in the series Airplanes Take off and Land is currently in the works and expected in early 2015 also from and distributed by .  It introduces Harry (a sheep) who is a little afraid of flying and travels with his Aunt Stacey to visit his grandmother.  Stacey is the captain and pilot of the Crow-Flies Airlines Flight Six and Harry gets special treatment traveling with his aunt and gets to visit the pilots lounge, see the pre-flight inspection, and sits in the jump seat to get a closeup view of flying, the airplane controls, and in-flight procedures. 


It is hoped these books will inspire children to chase their dreams and better understand how things work.

As A Young Boy . . .
At times being a little kid does not seem so long ago.  I was curious, loved to play, and lucky to make friends easily. 

One of my earliest memories is of running through the backyards of my neighborhood in Normal, Illinois (really that was the name of the town).  It was early morning and I decided to run as fast as I could from one backyard to another and another just because I could.  It was the beginning of a beautiful summer day that seemed to hold endless opportunities.  School was out, sunny, and warm I could feel the grass and the cool morning dew under my bare feet as I dashed along, both excited and afraid of stepping on a bee in the clover.  Still ran anyway with the twinge of fear spurring me on with quick inspecting glances at the ground ahead.  Yet still running an at times with pure abandon as fast as I could because it felt so good to fly across the grassy yards.  The excitement was simply too great to contain.  Running seemed to be the best way to express and enjoy this perfect summer morning that held so much possibility and promise.

I am sure at the time I could not have described this feeling as well, but the joy of bare feet on grass, the crisp clean air, and sense of freedom was too good to ignore.  Hopefully that feeling will never leave me.  The energy, like uncorking a bottle as the foam rushes out, after I stepped out the back door of our house the endless possibilities and energy of that summer day compelled me to run, just for fun.

I sometimes have similar feelings while writing about bridges or other things, when all the pieces seem to fit together (after a lot of work), and an idea, project, or book comes together.  That feeling of excitement bubbling up inside like a shaken soda can is a thrill we should all keep in our hearts.  The thrill of pure joy, success, and that anything is possible excites the good little kid in all of us, no matter what age.  The fun, energy, and assurance what you are doing right then and there is just what you were meant to be doing just now feels right.  AND you are the best and only person to express it--whatever that is.  For it is just so right and so strong you must seize the chance and paint or write, build, hug someone, or run through the grass just to feel the air rush by.

It is my hope kids everywhere will find and keep this feeling to always remember that excitement, thrill, and joy of being alive.  As we grow up, change, and learn it is hoped that feeling is never lost. 

We should all find activities, friends, and pursuits that create a feeling of self worth, strength, and joy!  Some people say it is following your passions -- whatever that is.  To me it is just this feeling inside wanting to discover, to ask what if and then find out despite the challenges.  What if I can make this happen?  What if I try and build this idea?  Why not make this work?  Ignore the fears, thoughts that the work will be too hard -- because in the process of working it out and along the way new things will be discovered.  And even if it doesn't turn out as expected, the hard work is always worth it -- not for the end result, although that too can be amazing -- but for the journey of learning and seeing what will happen, created, or built and that may uncover an even better purpose, idea, or project. 

Chase the ideas that thrill you, despite what other people think or say.  Try something new and different.  Exploring is just plain good to do, and it helps create a better, stronger, and smarter you.  What does the happy little kid inside you feel is cool, fun, or exciting to do next?  You never know what you will learn and become along the way.
Latest News
Check out the book trailer for Drawbridges Open and Close.

This short video (2:30) filmed at McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum provides a peek inside Drawbridges Open and Close book.

Listen to Rick Kogan's interview of Patrick McBriarty on

Radio program After Hours with Rick Kogan
June 29, 2014

Watch the ABC 7 Chicago News segment from

which includes two spots of Patrick McBriarty describing the importance of the Michigan Avenue Bridge on May 14, 2014.

Member of the following writer and trade associations:

Society of Children's Book
Writers and Illustrators

Choose Chicago Partner Logo


Author and bridge historian
Patrick McBriarty has AND can provide a variety of programs and presentations as follows:

A Bridge Talk - learn about Chicago's fantastic bridges chronicling that made the Windy City what is is today -- The Drawbridge Capital of the World with more drawbridges than any city in North America.  Discover he architectural and engineering significance of the bridges past and present mixed with human dramas of bridge jumps, political battles, destruction of bridges by flood, fire, and cattle or of the homeless man living inside a bridge.  Articulate, knowledgable and very approachable McBriarty lends his keen eye, humor, and expertise to create and deliver great programming for kids and adults alike.  Each talk is customized to the audience and no two are exactly alike incorporating Q&A's with the audience.  Well polished these presentations have been provided for trade associations, public libraries, history museums, schools, universities, and private clubs. [Total time 60-65 minutes.]

Screening of the Documentary - Bring the 57-minute documentary Chicago Drawbridges to your organization.  See the film that chronicles the development of Chicago's bridges from the first wood footbridge, built by a tavern owner in 1832, to the iconic spans crossing the Chicago River today.  Broadcast on Chicago and Milwaukee Public Television, you can share this informative and entertaining film with your organization and enjoy a Q&A with the filmmakers, afterward. 
[Total time 70 minutes.  A/V requirements: a venue, screen
and LCD projector.] 

Boat Tours - Catch author and Chicago bridge historian Patrick McBriarty on Wendella's Chicago River Bridges Tours to spend a delightful 2-hours cruising the river to see and learn about the bridges.  Pass under or through at least 20 bridges to learn up close their importance and significance to Chicago and engineering and architectural development.  For schedules and tickets visit the Wendella website.
[Total time 120 minutes.]

Specialty Tours - For a custom
Chicago bridges walking or boat tours contact Patrick by email at to discuss your needs and organize a specialty tour.

All of programs provide great history, exploration, and evolution of moveable bridge designs, how various drawbridges work, engineering and architectural significance, and the development that led to the Chicago-type bascule bridge design that dominates our waterways and continues to evolve.  These programs require an honorarium, which is negotiable and the ability to sell books and DVDs
at the event.

McBriarty taps into the universal relationship we all have with bridges by sharing his excitement and passion relating the beauty, dynamics, and magic of bridges with people of all ages.  Patrons take away a new found appreciation for bridges as these fantastic structures offer a tremendous springboard for further discussions of science, technology, engineering, and math for most any educational level.  To bring this presentation to your organization email and schedule your event.

Website Builder