The Colorado Street Bridge curves over a now dry river bed called the Arroyo Seco with old street lamps and a beautiful balustrade (now topped with 8 foot high fences) and has a very romantic and old charm look.
It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. It was a part of the historic Route 66 and it has been featured in several films and TV series.
When it was built in 1912, I’m sure that its design firm, Waddell & Harrington never thought it would soon be nicknamed “the suicide bridge” and develop a folklore of tales of how it has become haunted.
Apparently the reputation began before construction of the bridge was ever completed. A construction worker fell to his death and landed in the wet cement under the bridge and the story is that his remains are preserved in the concrete supporting the bridge to this day.
The first suicide happened on November 16, 1919. The death count soared during the Great Depression. Depending on which report you go by, between fifty and 95 suicides occurred on the bridge between 1933 and 1937. In 1933 the bridge underwent a twenty seven million dollar renovation and a suicide barrier was installed. However, while the number of suicides has been reduced, they continue to this day.
An LA Times article in July 2017 reports there has been a recent upsurge of suicides from the Colorado Street Bridge, citing six deaths in the previous four months. This led the city to install fencing over the pedestrian alcoves along the bridge making it harder to jump the fence. The article notes that a construction worker working on a housing development under the bridge heard the thud of a body hitting the ground and said it was “a savage blow to the mind.”
Notable people and interesting tales surround some of the suicides. The most told is how a mother took her child and herself to the bridge and was ready to end it all. She threw her baby first and then jumped, plummeting to her death. The child survived, as it landed in a tree unharmed, the mother did not. Another is the British-American model and reality television star Sam Sarpong lept to his death from the bridge on October 27, 2015.
A multitude of urban legends have erupted surrounding the bridge. The first of which being of how the ghost of the construction worker preserved in the concrete of the bridge’s base haunts the bridge, and how he currently beckons the troubled to leap. The woman that threw herself and her daughter over the edge is said to be seen haunting the bridge searching for her daughter. Many misty forms are said to haunt the bridge including a man with wire rimmed glasses and a woman seen standing atop one of the parapets, vanishing as she throws herself off.
The Colorado Street Bridge is well worth seeing for its beauty. It’s also managed to star in a few movies and television series. I happened to notice it was used as a filming location in one of the first two episodes of the remake of the Knight Rider series starring Justin Bruening. The Colorado Street Bridge and the roads under it were prominently featured as the spot where clandestine meetings with gang members and dangerous street races played out.
To see the suicide bridge, exit Highway 134 at Orange Grove and head south to Green Street just beyond the freeway then right on to Grand Street. There is a cul de sac with a grassy park like area and a path leading to the walkway along the bridge. To drive across the bridge, leave Grand, head back towards the 134 on-ramp and actually take the 134 West on-ramp, but veer towards the left and onto the bridge instead of right and onto the highway (this one is a bit tricky and easy to miss).
Hopefully the suicides will become history and no longer practiced. (update Jan 2020, fences and barriers have been placed along the the bridge since this post was written. While they destroy the beauty of the bridge, they do make it very difficult for someone to try to use it as a means to end it all.) Meanwhile, it’s an architectural masterpiece and a significant historic part of Los Angeles and Pasadena. And if you are the adventurous type, you can go after dark and see if you might see one of the apparitions hanging out under the bridge at night.
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More photos after the break…