Visit the 4th Street Bridge (and CicLAvia) this Sunday

October 7, 2010 § 5 Comments

4th Street Bridge - Photo by Paul Ong and Silvia Jimenez

This Sunday, October 10th 2010 (10-10-10) the city will host its first CicLAvia - a free bicycling and walking festival event that really has little to do with creeks and water issues in L.A. (other than that creek-bike stuff I bring up from time to time), but because I am working hard to make CicLAvia a success, I figured I would plug it here, with an article about the historic 4th Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River – a bridge featured on the CicLAvia route.

The 1931 4th Street Bridge (more formally the 4th Street Viaduct) is one of about a dozen great downtown bridges built in the late 1920s and early 1930s. It replaced the last remaining wooden bridge over the river downtown.

From a distance it appears pretty similar to the other downtown bridges (and it is), but it’s one of only two downtown bridges that feature Period Revival design. 4th Street is adorned in Gothic Revival detail. The porticos, lighting standards, and railing are all inspired by Gothic architecture; they feel as if they’ve been lifted from an early European cathedral. The railing is especially beautiful with its triangular “trefoil” pattern. (The other Period Revival bridge is the Cesar Chavez Bridge which is in Spanish Revival style.) 

Trefoil Railing on the 4th Street Viaduct

L.A.’s early 20th-century bridge-building spurt was made possible by the 1924 passage of the $2 million Viaduct Bond Act. The guiding hand behind the 4th Street Bridge and its companions was that of Merrill Butler, the city of Los Angeles’ bridge engineer from 1923 to 1961. The 4th Street Viaduct cost $2,264,000.00 in its day. The bridge was retrofitted to contemporary earthquake standards in 1995. The original and retrofit engineering were recognized by the Historic American Engineering Record in 2000. The bridge was declared city of Los Angeles’ Historic Cultural Monument #906 in 2008.

For more information on L.A.’s historic bridges (and to get involved in their preservation) see the L.A. Conservancy’s historic bridges page, which includes their excellent 2008 Spanning History booklet.

Come on down to CicLAvia and bike or walk the marvellous 4th Street Bridge. CicLAvia is a free open streets festival for walking and bicycling, taking place on 7 miles of L.A. streets from 10am-3pm on Sunday October 10th, 2010. For more information, go to the CicLAvia website.

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