Monday, March 24, 2008

No. 126 - Shakespeare Bridge

Shakespeare Bridge

Shakespeare Bridge
1926 – J.C. Wright
Franklin Avenue between St George Street and Myra Avenue – map
Declared: 4/17/74

What a piece of work is a span.

Funny. Just this past weekend the Los Angeles Times had a brief piece on Franklin Hills in which they mentioned Shakespeare Bridge. The upshot was there’s yet to be found any evidence backing up rumors a scene for The Wizard of Oz was shot on it.

Shakespeare Bridge

J.C. Wright designed the ravine-spanning bridge for the City Engineer’s Office. Completed in 1926, it stands thirty-feet wide and 230-feet long. It features Gothic arches and, at either end, two pair of what Gebhard and Winter, in Los Angeles: An Architectural Guide, call “aedicules.”

Shakespeare Bridge

The black and white pictures below are from USC's Digital Archive. They were taken in 1928, and, looking at them today, you sort of wonder how badly folks then needed the bridge, with things looking so barren and all. Nearby John Marshall High School was still three years away.

Shakespeare Bridge
Shakespeare Bridge
Shakespeare Bridge
Shakespeare Bridge

Clearly this bridge means a lot to the local community. After taking a very palpable hit in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Shakespeare Bridge needed some serious repair work. Representing the gateway to Franklin Hills, the span was given a $1.5 million seismic retrofit by TM Engineering.

Shakespeare Bridge
Shakespeare Bridge

By writing this post, not only have I learned there’s an organization called the Franklin Hills Residents Association, but I also now know they’ve got a publication called Overview. Here’s a chunk about the reconstruction from a summer 1998 article:
Retrofit work included complete removal and reconstruction of the bridge’s deck, sidewalk, and the railing on both sides of the bridge. The abutment walls at each end of the bridge were removed and replaced with stronger reinforced concrete to transfer seismic forces from the bridge deck to the ground. The arched ribs, spandrel columns and spandrel wall under the bridge deck were also removed and reconstructed with reinforced concrete to strengthen the historic arches and to allow forces to be safely transferred through them to the ground. The key element of the new seismic design was the removal and reconstruction of the bridge deck.
Whew! In other words, it sounds like the whole bridge had to rebuilt from top to bottom. I don’t remember being inconvenienced traffic-wise during this time, but you can bet area residents experienced a huge pain for the year or so.

Shakespeare Bridge

Shakespeare Bridge was rededicated on May 9, 1998.

Oh. And the reason it’s called Shakespeare Bridge? You got me. But, then again, what’s in a name? That which we call a road by any other name would still be a street.

Shakespeare Bridge


Clark Robins and Charley M. Mims “The Shakespeare Bridge: the old look with new earthquake resistant strength,” Overview, Summer 1998, p. 3

Up next: Exposition Club House


Pasadena Adjacent said...


These are wonderful photos. A friend of mine grew up near the bridge and has told me about it. She also spoke of a network of hillside stairways in the area. She now lives in Texas but will appreciate seeing this post.

Come visit Palm Axis. I've reworked my blog into something akin to chapters. It's sweetly irreverent. (my opinion)!

Computo said...

Do you happen to know anything about the pseudo-Wright house on the hill above Shakespeare Bridge, on the Marshall High side? Its a very intriguing building, nestled into the shrubery...

Really awesome post here, glad to know this bridge I drive over daily has a solid retrofit! Now if only they'd patch the potholes on either side!!

Anonymous said...

Just a note, in the article you have the Northridge earthquake listed as happening in 1992, and not 1994.

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Thanks, Anonymous. It's corrected (after all these years!).