Monday, September 15, 2014

Pasadena’s Suicide Bridge

Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, California is 150 feet tall and was constructed over an 18-month period in 1912-13. It was the highest concrete bridge of its time and was considered an engineering feat.

Before the completion of this bridge people had to cross the Arroyo Seco canyon using horses and wagons. They had to descend a steep eastern slope and cross a bridge over the canyon’s steam then they had to climb back up the west bank through Eagle Rock Pass.

Building this bridge was not an easy task. Engineers could find no solid footing in this seasonably wet arroyo bed. An engineer, John Drake Mercereau solved this problem by curving the bridge 50 degrees to the south.

This not only worked it created a graceful design of soaring arches and a curved deck that eventually placed the bridge on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.

This bridge was built along the historic Route 66 and connected Pasadena to Los Angeles. But its two lanes quickly became clogged with traffic and by the 1930s * was considered inadequate.

*  The Colorado Street Bridge was featured in the Charlie Chaplain film City Lights in 1931. Ironically, Chaplain’s character convinces a man not to jump--that life is worth living.

A New Reputation

Because of the Colorado Street Bridge’s height it became a chosen place for suicides. The first known person to jump off the bridge was in 1919.

During the Great Depression in the years 1933-37 many people jumped off this bridge to their deaths. Over the years, more than 100 people have ended their lives in this manner at this spot.

By the early 1980s this bridge was in major disrepair--chunks of concrete fell from its ornate arches and railings. After the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, the bridge was closed as a precaution.

After this, federal and state funds were raised--27 million dollars--in order to renovate the bridge.

In 1993, this project was completed--including a suicide prevention rail being put in place. But suicides still occur.

Some locals state cynically that this rail was not built high enough. The Colorado Street Bridge--is on what is now Colorado Boulevard. This is the route that the New Year’s Rose Parade follows. It is said the rail was kept low to insure the bridges esthetic appeal remained intact.

Lost Souls

Because of the large amount of suicides that have occurred this bridge is often called Suicide Bridge. It is because of these deaths that the bridge and the arroyo canyon and park below are considered to be haunted.

Some believe when you commit suicide your soul is doomed to wander. If this is true--the Colorado Street Bridge--appears to be proof.

An apparition of a man wearing wire-framed glasses has been seen on the bridge many times as well as woman wearing a long flowing white robe.

Her apparition is seen climbing to the top of one parapet preparing to jump. When people approach to help she is no longer there.

While on the bridge drivers report seeing in the middle of the road another female apparition. Most state they had to swerve to avoid hitting her--but then she just vanishes.

Underneath the bridge others have reported seeing phantoms wandering the area. Some have heard unexplained noises, such as crying and screams.

One couple walking in the tunnel under the bridge reported that as they passed each of the six lights that illuminate this path they went out. When they looked back the entire area was pitch black.

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