Riverside Figueroa Bridge Demolition Underway

August 6, 2014 § 2 Comments

Riverside Drive Bridge 1926-2011 - photo copyright Osceola Refetoff

Riverside Drive Bridge as it looked in 2011 – photo copyright Osceola Refetoff

The city of Los Angeles is proceeding with demolition of  the historic Riverside-Figueroa Bridge over the L.A. River. I’ve been covering this story over at Streetsblog Los Angeles, see today’s article featuring sad photographs showing the bridge being torn up. It makes me sad that this neighborhood-scale bridge is being torn down in favor of a freeway-scale bridge. In this earlier post, I called the project “nothing but zombie engineers fulfilling a now obsolete paean to the automobile.” I don’t think I can outdo that characterization today.

Partially demolished bridge more-or-less as it appears today. Photo by Daveed Kapoor

Partially demolished bridge more-or-less as it appears today. Photo by Daveed Kapoor

Places to Visit: the East Fork of the San Gabriel River and the Bridge to Nowhere

August 22, 2012 § 4 Comments

The Bridge to Nowhere over the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, photos by Carrie Lincourt

Last week, a friend and I took a really great hike up the East Fork of the San Gabriel River to the Bridge to Nowhere. It’s an excellent local day hike (9.5 miles round trip) that I highly recommend, though it’s probably best done during cooler seasons – say between late September and early June.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Riverside-Figueroa Bridge Destruction: Insult to Pedestrians

April 27, 2012 § 17 Comments

Riverside Drive Bridge 1926-2011 - photo copyright Osceola Refetoff

If there was any doubt that the city of Los Angeles’ wrongheaded destruction of the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge is nothing but zombie engineers fulfilling a now obsolete paean to the automobile, this just in! Not only is the end-product (due 2015) a massive freeway-esque car-centric bridge… but, already this week, the construction zone itself is a dangerous gauntlet for pedestrians.

(No thought has been given to bikes, either, but thick-skinned intrepid bike commuters can pretty much go wherever cars can go… so we cyclists can still use the bridge roadway that’s set aside for cars.)  « Read the rest of this entry »

Return to the Center of the Seventh Street Bridge

November 24, 2011 § 5 Comments

Detail of the dedication plaque on the Seventh Street Viaduct

There’s a promising new report about possibilities for the future of the Seventh Street Bridge over the L.A. River, so I got another call to head into the bridge and show off the space. I plan to write about the new report, but I ended up with more than enough photo and video material for one post, so I am going write about the bridge here, then separately post about the report later.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Say Goodbye to the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge

September 23, 2011 § 59 Comments

Riverside Drive Bridge 1926-2011 - photo copyright Osceola Refetoff

It’s not the greatest of the Los Angeles River’s historic bridges. The L-shaped Riverside Drive Bridge that connects Elysian Valley with Cypress Park is one of at least five Riverside Drive Bridges in Los Angeles… so it’s commonly called the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge. It’s sort of a patchwork bridge, with parts from 1928-1929, 1930s and 1950s. And it’s going to be demolished… very soon.

Signage on North Figueroa near San Fernando Road - photo by Joe Linton, uncredited photos below also by author

I knew it was coming, but just this week I spotted signs saying “BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION AUG 2011 to DEC 2015 – INFORMATION 213-978-0333. A bit further on, there were construction trucks parked on the bridge and some construction workers huddled, discussing and pointing.

At this point I feel sad for this nice old bridge… so I am going to try to faithfully record its history here. Then perhaps in a future post, I will explain some of the features of the new bridge replacing it (you can get some sense for the new bridge from this earlier Confluence Park diagram.)

I am disappointed to see it go. It’s a designated L.A. City Historic Cultural Landmark (No. 908), but, it’s one of the lesser historic bridges, so, at this point, I am pretty much resigned to see it go. There are much better bridges under great threat of demolition, including 6th Street and North Spring Street, and the city of Los Angeles’ bridge program has others on its lists (for example.)  « Read the rest of this entry »

Downtown River Bridges in the News this Week

September 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Vintage postcard featuring 6th Street Bridge in foreground, and 4th and 1st Street bridges in middle. Thanks Netty Carr for loaning me the postcard.

A quick post to alert creek freaks to two historic bridges in the blogosphere this week:

> Yesterday, Blogdowntown highlighted the double-decker 7th Street Viaduct. The post celebrates the 84th anniversary of the bridge opening on September 19th, 1927, and includes interesting facts about who paid for what back then. See also Creek Freak’s earlier journey into the interstices of that great bridge.

> Last Saturday, Youtube user Corvobell posted this video of the set of an upcoming Batman movie – filming under the 6th Street Bridge. Though that 1932 bridge has a long movie pedigree (appearing in Grease, SWAT, and even The Simpsons Movie) it is under threat of demolition if city proposals move forward.

Santiago Avenue Bridge Mini-Park in Santa Ana

August 2, 2011 § 3 Comments

One of two identical commemorative metal plaques on the 1947 Santiago Avenue Bridge, located in the city of Santa Ana

I’ve been spending some time with family down in Orange County… and I got a chance to explore Santiago Creek. I did this exploring mostly by bike. It was actually really great to get my mind off of things and just follow an urban creek upstream and down. I love to bike around on streets and anticipate where I might be able to access a creek next, looking for what sort of condition it’s in, how access, bicycling, reinforcement, humans, critters, vegetation, etc. all are working or not for the waterway.

I did a great deal of this sort of exploration a lot in the late 1990s when I was first setting up the monthly Down By The River walks series for Friends of the L.A. River, and then quite a bit in 2005 when I was working on my book Down by the Los Angeles River. I recommend it highly – exploring creeks, I meant, not my book – though I recommend that too.

Whether you’ve got a concrete channel or a natural creek in your neighborhood, explore it – see where it flows to (often a journey from urban to even more highly degraded and concreted… until you get to the ocean) and where it flows from (of ten a journey from concrete to natural foothills streams.) It can give one a sense of place… often it takes one to the older parts of a place – great historic neighborhoods and bridges, other depression-era public works… sometimes just a slice, a sort of transect, through neighborhoods, including great places and neglected ones.

Santiago Creek is a tributary of the Santa Ana River. Santiago runs mostly through the cities of Santa Ana and Orange. I wrote about Santiago Creek briefly here, and ran Joel Robinson’s Santiago alert here. There’s also the Santiago Creek Greenway Alliance that’s working to protect the creek. I am going to write more extensively about my recent Santiago Creek explorations soon, but I thought I’d get something posted quickly about one feature I encountered.

Here’s a video I shot on the 1947 Santiago Avenue Bridge:

« Read the rest of this entry »

Trying to Respect Work Toward a Halfway Decent North Spring Street Bridge Project

May 15, 2011 § 12 Comments

Back in 2006, the city of Los Angeles proposed tearing down the 1929 North Spring Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River. The city planned to demolish the locally and nationally recognized historic bridge and construct a brand new bridge. The project included widening North Spring Street  from about 43 feet to about 96 feet. More than double. Really. Spring would have gone from a large neighborhood-scale street to a freeway-scale street.

It was particularly irritating to me that city engineering folks would present this project as needed for bike safety and for river revitalization… though no cycling or river groups were pushing for it, and, in fact, many opposed it. Grrrrr. Cyclists sure don’t need fifty-feet’ worth of widening.  Wider bridges and streets just mean faster-moving cars… making conditions less safe for biking and walking. And if you really wanted to spend ~$50million to make the river healthier and/or to make streets safer for bikes, there are a lot better and more effective ways to spend it. To me, it’s clearly about wider roads for more and more and more cars… in a dense central part of the city where high percentages of people walk, bike and take transit… hence it’s about jamming more non-local car traffic into Lincoln Heights and Chinatown.

Enjoy and defend our historic bridges while you still can. Pictured: Detroit Avenue Bridge over the Rocky River - Cleveland, Ohio - demolished

Due to a lot of pressure, mostly from historic preservation folks, that massively wrong-headed version of the project is now off the table. Whew.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Places to Visit: Burbank’s Lake-Providencia Bridge and Compass Tree Park

April 19, 2011 § 12 Comments

The 1949 Lake-Providencia Bridge - double parentheses, one in the foreground, the other in the upper right

The Burbank Western Wash runs pretty anonymously through the city of Burbank, and a tiny bit of the city of Glendale, then enters the L.A. River at a confluence just upstream of Bette Davis Picnic Area. As far as I know, it’s all concrete box-channel. There’s not too much going on there, though the city has a few bike paths planned.

I first explored the Burbank Western Wash (sometimes called the Burbank Western Channel) while I was tracking down bridges for my book, Down by the Los Angeles River. A librarian friend found me a Caltrans list of all the bridges in Los Angeles County. I reviewed the date on each bridge and bicycled out to check out every L.A. River watershed bridge built before the mid-1950s.

The anonymous Burbank Western Wash, from Verdugo Avenue

Most of the bridges on the Burbank Western Wash are nice, but unremarkable. In my book, I described them as “unassuming, friendly, neighborhood-scale bridges.” From upstream to downstream, these include:

  • Magnolia Boulevard (now frontage road) 1949
  • Olive Avenue (now frontage road) 1949
  • Verdugo Avenue (now frontage road) 1949
  • Lake Street and Providencia Avenue 1949
  • Alameda Avenue 1949
  • Victory Boulevard 1940
  • Riverside Drive 1940 (in city of Glendale – all others in city of Burbank)

The 1940 bridges feature decorative metal railing, with concrete posts, and a modest arch below. The 1949 bridges all feature the same pleasant concrete railing, ending at quarter-circle-shaped approach walls. They’re flat – no arch. Not bad, not spectacular or flashy.

The curved concrete railing of the 1949 Lake-Providencia bridge

When I was exploring these, though, one caught my attention: the 1949 Lake Street and Providencia Avenue Bridge. It’s not much compared to, say, the L.A. River bridges in downtown Los Angeles, but it is nice in its own way – and has a sweet small Compass Point Sycamore Park adjacent downstream. « Read the rest of this entry »

Akiko Crawford’s River Artwork

January 18, 2011 § 3 Comments

4th Street and 6th Street Bridges over the L.A. River - painting by Akiko Crawford

Feast your eyes on this L.A. River art by Akiko Crawford. Click on each image to link to larger versions. Creek Freak ran one piece of hers of in an earlier post, then she recently posted a handful of wonderful river and bridge images, so I figured I’d check in with her and run a bunch here. There’re more, and other urban sketches, designs, renderings, photos and other stuff at Akiko Crawford: Portfolio and Art Blog.

Western end of 4th Street Bridge - drawing by Akiko Crawford

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