Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Bridges of the Arroyo Seco ~ One in a Series: York Blvd. Bridge

Thousands of people drive over it each day, yet few know and appreciate the history and grandeur of Los Angeles' York Blvd. Bridge, which traverses the Arroyo Seco River between South Pasadena and the community of Highland Park/Garvanza.

Built in 1890 initially as a wooden trolley bridge, the York Blvd. Bridge received its concrete arch structure in 1912.

With a total length of 683.1 feet, the York Blvd. Bridge welcomes walkers on its sidewalk and heavy bicycle and motorized traffic along its two opposing lanes.

Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, the York Blvd. Bridge's largest span reaches 96.1 feet in a closed spandrel arch design.

Much of the bridge's charm, however, is not merely its majestic clean design line span but rather its spectacular vistas of the natural beauty of the original home of Arroyo Culture.

Stand on the bridge looking northward and one is rewarded with panoramic views of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains, snow-capped in winter months.

Stand on the bridge facing southward and it's easy to imagine how idyllic the beautiful Arroyo Seco looked before its concrete channelization in the 1930s.

Like all older spans in Los Angeles, however, the York Blvd. Bridge faces an uncertain future. While its substructure condition rating is good, its superstructure rating and deck condition are poor and the bridge itself is considered 'functionally obsolete' under current state transportation construction rules.

Yet, comparing the historic turn of the 20th Century photo (below) showing the original trolley bridge facing southward (Photo Courtesy of Los Angeles Library) surprisingly indicates how the Arroyo Seco meanders today just as it did a century ago.

The bridge in the upper right of this old photo is the historic train trestle which today still carries passengers across it on the Gold Line light rail system.

Of course, the York Blvd. Bridge offers a different view at the Arroyo Seco Parkway level; yet, even while whizzing down the freeway, it is easy to be captivated by its grand archways and elegant, yet simple design.

Built for another era, the York Blvd. Bridge has passed the test of time to offer Angelinos and visitors a free sweeping view of the Arroyo Seco river canyon, if they would just get out of their cars for a few minutes and walk along its magnificent open span.

1 comment:

  1. You might enjoy seeing some of the paintings I did of the bridges in the Arroyo. My husband and I walked our dog there every day for several years and I became fascinated with the light on the concrete supports, as well as with the whole experience of standing under them. Here's a calendar featuring a few. I did index paintings showing the context and larger more abstract works concentrating on details.


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