Colorado Street Bridge - Pasadena, CA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
N 34° 08.678 W 118° 09.856
11S E 392662 N 3778804
Quick Description: The Colorado Street Bridge was designed and built in 1913 by the firm of J.A.L. Waddell. It spans 1,486 feet (453 m) and is notable for its distinctive Beaux Arts arches, light standards, and railings.
Location: California, United States
Date Posted: 6/13/2007 12:20:36 PM
Waymark Code: WM1P3E
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member deano1943
Views: 187

Long Description:

Pasadena’s Colorado Street Bridge was dedicated on December 13, 1913, with over 3,000 residents in attendance. It was a marvel to behold, with its majestic light standards and graceful arches across the Arroyo Seco, a natural gorge 150 feet below.



Engineer John Alexander Lowe Waddell of Kansas City designed the bridge to connect Pasadena to Los Angeles, thus avoiding the treacherous descent into the Arroyo and ascent up the other side. The river flowing beneath the bridge made construction a most difficult task. Contractor John Drake Mercereau was credited with the bridge’s final design. He suggested curving it across the Arroyo to take advantage of the firmest footing for the eleven great arches. This revolutionary concept met with considerable skepticism but resulted in one of the most beautiful bridges in the world.



When completed, the Colorado Street Bridge was not only the first curvilinear bridge ever designed but also the tallest concrete bridge of its day. It is now a Civil Engineering Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The bridge has been threatened numerous times in its 93-year history. In 1935, it was to be demolished to make way for an early freeway design, which was never completed. In 1951, the wrecking ball hovered again when plans for the Foothill Freeway became a reality. A public outcry saved the Bridge, and the new Freeway Bridge was built beside it. The bridge remained an important, if shabby, regional transportation link, structurally sound but cosmetically crumbling.

Some significant changes were made to the bridge over the years, including simplifying the light standards and removing the beautiful balustrade, and adding a suicide barrier to deter jumpers.

Following the Loma Prieta earthquake that occurred on October 17, 1989, the Colorado Street Bridge was closed to traffic as a precaution. Public Works officials joined preservationists and community groups in their commitment to preserving the unique design features of the bridge, including the walkway, curved seating bays, balustrades and light posts.

The bridge’s rehabilitation included removing the roadbed and seismically reinforcing the piers, new concrete was applied to cover the steel plates and carefully blended the original surface. A new roadbed was constructed on top of the bridge; complete with sidewalks on each side as originally designed. The original light standards were restored and refitted with four globes as originally designed. A new suicide fence was chosen to complement the design of the bridge, and simple guardrails were installed between the walkways and traffic lanes as required by current codes.



On December 13, 1993, the Colorado Street Bridge was dedicated anew and reopened to traffic.
Street address:
W. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA United States


County / Borough / Parish: Los Angeles County

Year listed: 1981

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering

Periods of significance: 1900-1924

Historic function: Government, Transportation

Current function: Government, Transportation

Hours of operation: From: 9:00 AM To: 5:00 PM

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Privately owned?: Not Listed

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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Recent Visits/Logs:
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Metro2 visited Colorado Street Bridge  -  Pasadena, CA 5/2/2013 Metro2 visited it
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