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L.A. River Excursion: Sixth Street Bridge

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Built in 1932, the Sixth Street Bridge straddles three freeways (101, 10, 5) and the Los Angeles River, from Mateo Street to the west, and Boyle Avenue to the east. Seeing the bridge from all angles, from walking underneath on the east-side where the trains roll through, to driving down the corridor along the river itself, it's hard to not appreciate this senior of a bridge. In November 2011, a City Council report determined that the bridge should be replaced due to a significant risk of collapse under the stress of a major earthquake. Suffering from "concrete cancer," the cement of the bridge contains a high alkali content leading to a reaction with the sand that causes cracking, and eventually structural failure. Efforts to retrofit the bridge have been futile. Walking across the bridge is a challenge, but a proper way to say goodbye.

The day was particularly overcast, adding to the doom and gloom of the bridge. The sidewalks are particularly narrow, and portions of the wall are either jury-rigged or simply left missing, reinforcing feelings of the bridge's fragility. If you have not seen photos of the bridge's underside, perhaps you don't want to, as it only heightens these terrible thoughts. As you reach the center of the bridge, where the double arches of iron join, views of the river stretch north and south, connecting with the river's series of bridges.

White splotches cover the gallery of graffiti that once adorned the banks. If you can overcome the smell of the bird droppings, spend a moment to take in the arches, views of the city, and hard concrete of the river -- it will say more than a photo possibly could. Given another ten or twenty years, the City can expect a new bridge and the river revitalization plan to break ground, along with new developments like the Nabisco Factory or the Lincoln Heights Jail. While this is just another moment passing in Los Angeles' history, you'll never plant your feet here twice but as a bus passes by, the ground shakes, urging you to the end of the bridge.

Once you've reached Boyle Heights and feeling like you're legs aren't killing you (or your appetite is beckoning you forward), head north along St. Louis Street. You'll pass Hollenbeck Park as you can head towards Japanese eatery Otomisan, best tacos in L.A. at Guisados, or head east to the fish taco stand, Mariscos Jaliscos.

Or you can head back over the bridge, and grab a cup of joe from the latest high-end coffee shop to land in the Arts District, Handsome Coffee.


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