In Pasadena's early days, before the historic Colorado Street Bridge was built, crossing the Arroyo Seco (a deeply cut canyon linking the San Gabriel Mountains to the Los Angeles River) was an extremely difficult task. Horses and wagons had to descend the steep eastern slope, cross the stream over a smaller bridge, and then climb up the west bank through Eagle Rock Pass.
That all changed in 1913 when J.A.L. Waddell designed and built the 150 ft. high, 1,467 ft. long concrete structure that is the scenic gateway into central Pasadena just northeast of downtown Los Angeles. The bridge would eventually gain notoriety of a rather "curious" kind leading it to eventually become known as the "suicide bridge."
Rumor has it that in 1913, while the bridge was being built, a construction worker toppled over the side of the bridge and plunged headfirst into a vat of wet concrete below. Assuming he could not be saved, workers left his body in the quick-drying mix to die. Allegedly his soul cries out for other desperate beings. While this tale sounds a bit cartoon-y, it may actually explain why the bridge became a hot spot of sorts during the Great Depression when 95 people jumped to their deaths from 1919 to 1937.
One of the most famous suicide attempts occurred on May 1, 1937, when a despondent mother threw her little baby girl over the railing and then jumped over herself. The mother died, but miraculously, the little girl survived the plunge. Her mother had inadvertently tossed her into some nearby trees, and she was later recovered from the thick branches, scratched up but alive.
During the 1980's, the bridge would fall into a state of disrepair. The Loma Prieta earthquake that occurred near Oakland in 1989 would lead to the closing of the bridge until funding was finally set aside for repairs. The "Suicide Bridge" underwent a $27 million renovation in 1993, which included the installation of suicide prevention rails and spikes. The bridge has also received a Civil Engineering Landmark designation and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
News article highlighting recent suspected suicide - January 18, 2013
PASADENA - A woman plummeted to her death Friday after apparently jumping from the Colorado Street Bridge, police said.
The incident was reported about 3:45 p.m. on the east side of the bridge, Pasadena police Lt. Diego Torres said.
The woman, estimated to be in her late 20s, was pronounced dead at the scene, he said. The investigation was ongoing, however the death initially appeared to be a suicide, Torres said.
Initial reports indicate she jumped, officials said.
"There doesn't seem to be any signs of foul play," he said.
News Article from The Pasadena Star News - January 02, 2002
PASADENA -- A body so badly decomposed police only suspect it is that of a male was discovered Tuesday night when someone reported a bad smell emanating from the Arroyo Seco, authorities said. Pasadena Fire Department firefighters had to rappel down the face of a cliff and cut through thick brush with chain saws to reach the source of the smell, said Pasadena police Lt. Darryl Qualls.
The body, possibly that of a transient, was discovered after a two-hour search ended about 9:30 p.m. near the Colorado Street Bridge just east of San Rafael Avenue in what appeared to be a transient camp, he said.
The bridge is known locally as Suicide Bridge because of the large number of people who have jumped from it to their death.
But police said it was too early to tell what caused the death.
"We don't know if it was a natural death or at the hands of someone else," Qualls said.
The race of the dead person could also not be determined because of the state of decomposition, he said.
UPDATE: The haunting call of the Suicide Bridge lures yet another victim.
Here's an article from the San Francisco Chronicle about a man who killed his girlfriend and her mother and then jumped from the bridge.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
A man fatally stabbed his girlfriend and her mother during an argument, then drove to a bridge and jumped to his death Thursday before a police officer could stop him, police said.
After the stabbing, police locked down a nearby elementary school, fearing the man may try to come for his 6-year-old son. Police took the boy off campus, police Lt. Ted Matthews said.
The man apparently never went to the school, Matthews said.
The man was identified as Walter Garcia, 38, Los Angeles police Detective Pat Barron said. The women were identified as Damaris Quiles, 35, and her mother, Carmen Quiles, 73.
Earlier in the morning, Garcia had gone to a home in Tujunga, northeast of downtown Los Angeles, and confronted his girlfriend, Barron said. His girlfriend had a restraining order against him.
The woman's mother heard the argument and came outside to intervene. Garcia became angry, stabbed the girlfriend with a knife and then stabbed her mother, police said.
Her mother died at the scene and his girlfriend died later at a hospital, Barron said.
The man drove east to Pasadena, where he jumped from the Colorado Street Bridge, Matthews said.
A caller reported that a man had climbed over a fence along the bridge and was on the outside railing, said Pasadena police spokeswoman Janet Pope Givens.
"The officer got there within a minute. The subject jumped before the officer had time to negotiate with him," she said.
The 150-foot-high bridge, built in 1913, is a historic landmark known locally as "suicide bridge" because dozens of people jumped from it over the years. The bridge spans the Arroyo Seco south of the Rose Bowl.
More Suicide Bridge Stuff:
|The Colorado Street Suicide Bridge|
|Approaching The Colorado Street Suicide Bridge eastbound on Colorado Blvd. Notice the tacky suicide-prevention railing along either side of the bridge.|
|From beneath The Colorado Street Suicide Bridge traveling north on S Arroyo Blvd.|
|The Colorado Street Suicide Bridge as seen from space. It's the curvy road right in the center of the photo (see the shadows of the arched spans). That's the Ventura Frwy that runs parallel and just north of it. Apparently the bridge goes right over some kind of factory or warehouse and parking lot...what a shame.
|The following update comes from ReelReviews friend Jim M.: "That area below the bridge is a National Guard base. It's soon to be converted into park space, a museum, and affordable housing constructed by Habitat for Humanity.
Author's comment: Glad to see some Southern California landmarks are being preserved and restored.