With demolition near, a wake is held for old Figueroa-Riverside Bridge

Photo by Nathan Solis

By Nathan Solis

On Sunday,  a group of locals gathered on  the old  Figueroa-Riverside bridge for what was  described as a wake for the  structure that  spans the L.A. River   between Cypress Park and Elysian Valley.  With demolition eminent, families picnicked on the bridge, mothers played tag and fathers spray painted messages with their children on the road. Flowers were brought and placed on the railings, dogs trotted along the unnecessary sidewalks.

The wake came after a grassroots campaign failed to sway the City of Los Angeles to repurpose the structure as a “landbridge”  for pedestrian, bicycle traffic and other public uses. And so on Sunday afternoon, the L-shaped bridge, built during the 1920s and 1930, served as the  picturesque setting for the wake while only a few feet away vehicle traffic traveled over  a new bridge over the L.A. River.  Organizers of the wake said the bridge was scheduled to be torn down today, Monday, June 9, but that could not be confirmed.

Under the concrete section of the bridge, right below the wake, there are blown out cars, and VHS tapes buried among spray cans, fast food wrappers, tires, and endless messages and tagging. Someone mentions that the wake is like the bridge’s last meal before its execution and some laugh, while others listen to music on a radio.

“I’m disappointed that the bridge is going to be torn down needlessly,” said Edith Weil, a Cypress Park resident. “It’s sad to see Los Angeles destroying its cultural heritage, and its history,”

Photo by Nathan Solis

Photo by Nathan Solis

Photo by Nathan Solis

Photo by Nathan Solis

Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis’ stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.


  1. You’re kidding.

  2. The anthropomorphization of a bridge is where I draw the line. I think that it’s time to let it go and move on…

    • This is a really special place, and walking out in the middle of and doing a cart wheel with your kid makes that really clear. The way it is now – acting as a car free connection for Figueroa and Riverside Drive and the LA River Path it is obvious what we’re going to miss out on.

  3. It’s not a beautiful bridge, nothing architecturally significant. Except for those beautiful lanterns. I noticed last week that the lanterns on one side had been removed, so someone is saving them. Anyone know what’s happening with them? I doubt they’ll get re-used on the new bridge.

  4. I too mourned the decision to tear it down. And then I thought, why not build a pedestrian-friendly bridge in the same space? I saw one when I was in Rome just recently, built over the Tiber near the new contemporary art museum. It was much better than a re-purposed bridge that had been designed originally for cars. (or chariots in this case). It had wood floors and guard rails that kept you from falling (or wanting to jump) and that you could still look through to the river down below. Any landscape architects out there want to start drawing up plans?

  5. What are they going to do now? Replace it? I too thought they could put a pedestrian bridge over same space

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