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Running With History Mile 5

Colorado Street Bridge

Running With History Mile 5 – Colorado Street Bridge: This iconic span is one of the great triumphs of historic preservation in Pasadena. When the bridge was dedicated on December 13, 1913, over 3,000 Pasadenans were present to welcome its opening. It was a marvel to behold, with its majestic light standards and eleven graceful arches across the Arroyo Seco, a natural gorge 150 feet below. At the time of its completion, 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 98-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.

Beginning in 1979, Pasadena Heritage joined with the City of Pasadena and local neighborhood groups to fund an early structural study, and the City of Pasadena began efforts to win funding for the bridge. That same year, Pasadena Heritage hosted a “Celebration on the Colorado Street Bridge” to raise awareness and garner support for the structure. That first celebration attracted 200 attendees, and since that time, it has captured the imagination of the community, growing to over 4,000 participants in 2010.

Following the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, the Colorado Street Bridge was closed to traffic as a precaution. Design work for its rehabilitation and a relentless pursuit of funds continued. 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.

Throughout the struggle to save the bridge, Pasadena Heritage organized letter-writing campaigns, constant lobbying and publicity efforts. At last, a complete funding package was assembled and work to restore and seismically upgrade the bridge began. On December 13, 1993, the Colorado Street Bridge was dedicated anew, exactly 80 years after its initial opening.

Running with History

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