Colorado Street Bridge (Pasadena, California)

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Colorado Street Bridge
Pasadena Colorado Street Bridge 2005.jpg
Colorado Street Bridge seen from the Arroyo Seco below
Coordinates34°08′42″N 118°09′50″W / 34.145°N 118.164°W / 34.145; -118.164
CarriesColorado Boulevard
CrossesArroyo Seco (Los Angeles County)
LocalePasadena, CA
OwnerCity of Pasadena
Characteristics
DesignArch
MaterialReinforced concrete
Total length1,467.5 feet (447.3 m)
Width38 feet (11.6 m)
Height148.5 feet (45.3 m)
Longest span233 feet (71 m)
No. of lanes2
History
DesignerWaddell & Harrington
Constructed byJ.D. Mercerau
Construction startJuly 1912
Construction cost$240,000 (1913)
OpenedDecember 12, 1913
Colorado Street Bridge
Architectural styleBeaux-Arts
NRHP reference No.81000156[1]
CRHR No.N941
Significant dates
Added to NRHPFebruary 12, 1981
Designated CRHRFebruary 12, 1981
Location
Roadway and suicide barriers

The Colorado Street Bridge is a historic concrete arch bridge spanning the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena, California.

History[edit]

The Colorado Street Bridge was designed and built in 1912 at a total cost of $191,000 (equivalent to $4,934,907 in 2020).[2] The bridge was designed by the firm of Waddell & Harrington, based in Kansas City, Missouri. The structure carries Colorado Boulevard (then called "Colorado Street"), the major east-west thoroughfare connecting Pasadena with Eagle Rock and Glendale to the west, and with Monrovia to the east. The Colorado Street Bridge replaced the small Scoville Bridge located near the bottom of the Arroyo Seco. It opened on December 13, 1913.[3]

The bridge follows a curved path so that the footings would sit on more solid ground than a straight bridge would have provided.[4][5] The bridge spans 1,468 feet (447 m) at a maximum height of 150 feet (50 m) and is notable for its distinctive Beaux Arts arches, light standards, and railings. The bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a California Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.[6]

Plaque dedicating the bridge as a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, near the span's east end on the south side.

"Suicide Bridge"[edit]

A 1913 view of the Scoville Bridge next to the partially completed Colorado Street Bridge.

During the early part of the twentieth century, the Colorado Street Bridge became known locally as "Suicide Bridge" after dozens of people leaped to their deaths. The bridge had a bad reputation before it was even built, as a construction worker fell to his death and landed in the wet cement under the bridge.

The number of deaths spiked during the Great Depression, but the deaths did not stop there. One of the most popular stories was about a woman and her child. One night, the mother took her child and herself to the bridge and was ready to end her life. She threw her baby first and then jumped, plummeting to her death. The child survived, as it landed in a tree unharmed, but the mother successfully ended her life.

The balustrade was replaced by an 8-foot-high (2.4 m) barrier in an effort to deter suicides, but the bridge retained its nickname. To this day, some still use the bridge as a means to end their lives. For example, on October 27, 2015, British-American model and reality television star Sam Sarpong committed suicide by jumping from the bridge.[7]

In 2016, temporary anti-suicide barriers, in the form of 10-foot-high (3.0 m) chain link fencing, were installed on the sidewalk inside the balustrade, blocking the seating alcoves. These alcoves are believed to be the primary route taken by suicide victims. In 2017, there were nine deaths by suicide. In 2018, there were four deaths by suicide from the bridge by September. After police spent 13 hours successfully negotiating with a would-be jumper, these temporary barrier fences were extended to cover the entire bridge span. The city plans to replace the temporary fencing with permanent barriers, at least 7.5 feet (2.3 m) in height.[8][9]

In culture[edit]

One of the earliest films in which the bridge appears is in Charlie Chaplin's The Kid (filmed 1919-1920), when a mother is shown at the east end of the bridge pining for her son at about the 12 minute mark. In 1976, the bridge was a filming location of the TV series Emergency! fifth season (episode 14)[10] where a boy was shown trapped (the bridge was given the fictitious name Johnson Canyon Bridge in the episode).[citation needed] In 1989, after the Loma Prieta earthquake in Northern California, the bridge was declared a seismic hazard and closed to traffic. It was reopened in 1993 after a substantial retrofit. The bridge is closed each summer for a festival, "A Celebration on the Colorado Street Bridge", hosted by historic preservation group Pasadena Heritage.[11]

An episode from the eighth season of the series Full House, "Leap of Faith" featured the bridge in a bungee jumping scene. The bridge was depicted as being in the San Francisco bay area.

The bridge is featured in an episode of Fear Factor. The stunt, named “Bridge Hang”, required contestants to hang from a trapeze bar hoisted over the edge of the bridge for as long as they could to avoid being eliminated.[12] Host Joe Rogan does not refer to the bridge by name; rather, he says “This bridge used to be known as Suicide Bridge. Don’t worry, we’re not gonna ask you to jump off of it. Instead, we’re gonna ask you to hang on for dear life.”

The 2012 Lana Del Rey song Summertime Sadness for the album Born To Die filmed parts of its music video on the bridge. Actress Jaime King is seen climbing over a section of the bridge and then jumping off later in the video.

The bridge was site of the beginning of The Amazing Race Season 21. The contestants had to rappel down the side of the bridge to their waiting cars to start the race.[13]

In the 2016 romantic musical film La La Land, the protagonists took an evening stroll across the bridge.[14]

The bridge can often be seen during the road tests for vehicles on the popular YouTube series Jay Leno's Garage.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  2. ^ Pasadena's Colorado Street Bridge Celebrates 100th Anniversary, 17 June 2013, retrieved 4 August 2014
  3. ^ https://articles.latimes.com/1993-12-14/local/me-1686_1_colorado-street[bare URL]
  4. ^ Segal, Matthew (2018-06-18). "The Complicated Case of the Colorado Street Bridge". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  5. ^ "Colorado Street Bridge—Route 66: A Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary". U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  6. ^ Gold, Lauren (November 28, 2013). "Pasadena Museum of History Celebrates Colorado Street Bridge Centennial". Pasadena Star-News. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  7. ^ "Police Spent 7 Hours Talking to Sam Sarpong Before His Apparent Suicide". 29 October 2015.
  8. ^ Latest suicide attempt prompts city manager to expand fencing on Colorado Street Bridge, 6 September 2018, retrieved 19 December 2018
  9. ^ Pasadena is extending temporary fencing on Colorado Street Bridge to deter suicide attempts, 4 September 2018, retrieved 19 December 2018
  10. ^ Emergency! "To Buy or Not to Buy" (#5.14)
  11. ^ Pasadena Heritage Presents a Celebration on the Colorado Street Bridge Archived 2008-05-12 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Fear Factor Moments | Bridge Hang". YouTube.
  13. ^ Nordyke, Kimberlya (October 1, 2012). "'Amazing Race': First Eliminated Team Reacts to 'Devastating' Finish". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  14. ^ Jordan Rane, Did you love 'La La Land'? This L.A. trip is for you, CNN Travel
  15. ^ Pasadena Pioneers Bridge
  16. ^ Pasadena: Public Memorials and Monuments Archived 2016-06-08 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]