Historic Bridges

Twenty-seven bridges span the entirety of the Los Angeles River from the San Bernadino Valley down to Long Beach, fourteen of which are within the Los Angeles city limits. Built in less than three decades' time, between 1909-1938, the bridges represent a significant time period for Los Angeles, when the combination of a population explosion and the popularity of the automobile redefined the young city. In an attempt to alleviate the number of cars on surface streets and the complicated traffic jams that had started to pop up, the city built the bridges to redirect traffic flows. Their massive scale and impressive architecture was influenced by the nationwide City Beautiful Movement, which sought to improve the morale and increase civic engagements by beautifying the city. A tour of the bridges is also an example of the design evolution that occurred over the three decades that they were built. Recently, the bridges have come under threat of demolition; some are considered to be potentially structurally unsound due to lack of preservation. However, a vote in 2008 by the Los Angeles City Council designated eleven of the fourteen bridges as Historic-Cultural Monuments--delaying, if not stopping, their possible deterioration.

Below is a slideshow of bridges built over the Los Angeles River during the first three decades of the twentieth century.


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Gary Lee Moore

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