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New Motion Looks for New Possibilities Under the Seventh Street Bridge

While the dust is still settling from the announcement of the Sixth Street Bridge design competition, another historic bridge is getting ready for the spotlight.

The Seventh Street Bridge is the subject of Councilmemeber Jose Huizar's motion introduced during the Ad Hoc Los Angeles River Committee meeting held on October 25. In the motion, Huizar points to the possibility of upgrading the historic bridge to create a new public space.

"It's not just about getting people from point A to point B. It's also creating a point C, which is the bridge itself as a destination point," said Huizar spokesman Rick Coca, echoing the councilman's sentiments on the Sixth Street bridge and applying it to its next-door neighbor. "The reason we like this idea so much is that it's similar in its goal."

Unlike other more straightforward structures, the Seventh Street bridge has a hidden atrium. The original three-arch bridge was built in 1910. In 1927, instead of tearing down the old bridge, the city built a new roadway on top of the structure, creating the Seventh Street Viaduct that we see today, which crosses the Los Angeles River and train tracks on either end.

"Of all the beautiful historic bridges downtown, only the Seventh Street Bridge is double-decked, with an extraordinary space that's been sealed off for decades," says architect Arthur Golding, whose renderings inspired this motion. "After looking at it and thinking about it for years, I developed this conceptual proposal."

Seventh Street Bridge rendering by Arthur Golding and Associates

The atrium has been overlooked for about 80 years, though it has inspired curious adventurers, as demonstrated by blogger Joe Linton and Jason Neville's 2010 jaunt. Based on archival material from the L.A. City Bureau of Engineers and photos from the web, architect Golding's renderings show a different kind of bridge, one that feels more like a streetside café and marketplace than the current industrial form we see today.

With the motion kickstarting new interest in the Seventh Street Bridge, Golding hopes this historic bridge will soon become a destination, a lively gathering place for Angelenos and visitors alike. "With the right mix of uses and the right management, I envision a place that we'll all want to visit many times. And, by the way, it'll be great spot to view the spectacular new Sixth Street Viaduct, both during construction and after its completion," says Golding.

The idea has been floating around for sometime, making an appearance last year, but Coca says now is the best time for the proposal to resurface. "We think the timing is right given that we just awarded the Sixth Street Bridge design...Now that we're moving forward with that, we can see what we can do with this."

The motion is now going to the Information Technology & General Services Committee and the Public Works Committee for review. The results from their review would be presented back during the Ad Hoc River Committee meeting in a few months.

Top: Seventh Street Bridge rendering by Arthur Golding and Associates

About the Author

Carren is an art, architecture and design writer and an avid explorer of Los Angeles. Her work has been spotted on Core77, Dwell, Surface Asia, and Fast Co.Design. You can find her online and on Twitter. 
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