Eight years of research, writing, and editing culminated in McBriarty’s first book Chicago River Bridges, published by the University of Illinois Press in October 2013. The effort garnered three book awards for what is now considered the authoritative guide and history on Chicago’s bridges. Toward the end of this period, McBriarty partnered with Chicago filmmaker Stephen Hatch to co-produce the documentary, Chicago Drawbridges. The one-hour PBS documentary has been broadcast innumerable times on Chicago and Milwaukee Public Television and was screened in Park City, Utah during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
Wanting to share his passion for bridges with a “smaller” audience, McBriarty embarked on the children’s picture book, Drawbridges Open and Close with illustrator Johanna H. Kim. This spiraled into the three-book PTM Werks Series of fun, informative picture books mixing a Richard Scarry-like style with a splash of David Macaulay-esque diagrams. The series taps into McBriarty’s frustration at completing a Masters in Economics and THEN learning he should have studied engineering. He hopes these books help kids to avoid this mistake and inspire future builders, designers, trades people, pilots, and engineers.
McBriarty lives on Chicago’s north side and continues to collect, write, and create Chicago history, develop new children’s books, and the occasional travel article. He regularly provides book talks, school visits, STEM workshops, and walking tours, and also volunteers time to the Chicago Maritime Museum, The McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum, and the Chicago Maritime Arts Center. With a strong belief in health and fitness, he is regularly chasing physical pursuits, such as bicycling across Iowa (RAGBRAI), lap swimming, and racing sailboats. With Chicago author Chris Lynch, Patrick co-founded the Windy City Historians.