Colorado Street Bridge (Pasadena, California)
Colorado Street Bridge
Colorado Street Bridge seen from the Arroyo Seco below
|Architect||Waddell & Harrington|
|NRHP reference #||81000156|
|Added to NRHP||February 12, 1981|
The Colorado Street Bridge was designed and built in 1912 at a total cost of $191,000 (equivalent to $4,777,538 in 2018). 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. Colorado Street Bridge replaced the small Scoville bridge located near the bottom of the Arroyo Seco. It opened on December 13, 1913.
The bridge spans 1,486 feet (453 m) at a maximum height of 150 feet (45 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 National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
During the early part of the twentieth century, the Colorado Street Bridge became known locally as "Suicide Bridge" after dozens of people leapt 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. Supposedly he is still there today. The number of deaths spiked during the Great Depression but didn't stop there.
The most told story is 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 tall 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.
In 2016, temporary anti-suicide barriers, in the form of 10 foot tall chain link fencing was 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 successful suicides. In 2018, there were 4 successful suicides 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 in height.
In the 1970s, the bridge was a filming location of the TV series Emergency! fifth season (episode 14) where a boy was shown trapped (the bridge was given the fictitious name Johnson Canyon Bridge in the episode). 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.
The Colorado Street Bridge, with the San Gabriel mountains in the background, around 1920.
- National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- Pasadena’s Colorado Street Bridge Celebrates 100th Anniversary, 17 June 2013, retrieved 4 August 2014
- Latest suicide attempt prompts city manager to expand fencing on Colorado Street Bridge, 6 September 2018, retrieved 19 December 2018
- Pasadena is extending temporary fencing on Colorado Street Bridge to deter suicide attempts, 4 September 2018, retrieved 19 December 2018
- Emergency! "To Buy or Not to Buy" (#5.14)
- Pasadena Heritage Presents a Celebration on the Colorado Street Bridge Archived 2008-05-12 at the Wayback Machine
- Jordan Rane, Did you love 'La La Land'? This L.A. trip is for you, CNN Travel
- Pasadena Pioneers Bridge
- Pasadena: Public Memorials and Monuments Archived 2016-06-08 at the Wayback Machine
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Colorado Street Bridge (Pasadena, California).|
- City of Pasadena's History Page, with a historic postcard view of the bridge.
- Colorado Street Bridge Pasadena, California, National Park Service
- History of the Colorado Street Bridge from Pasadena Heritage
- Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. CA-58, "Colorado Street Bridge", 13 photos, 34 data pages, 2 photo caption pages
- Colorado Street Bridge at Structurae