1 vote

North Spring Street Bridge


Spring Street looking South

The view from the Broadway Bridge



BH Photo #114003

Street Views 

Los Angeles in 1881 (What Los Angeles Looked Like in the Year 1881) 

Los Angeles Time (December 4, 1891) Excerpt

A quiet, slow-moving, half-way frontier town was Los Angeles early in 1881.... The change in the appearance of Los Angeles during the past ten years has been so remarkable that persons who visited then and who return now can scarcely recognize it as the same city. In 1881 the Spanish quarter, with its low, one-story adobe houses, was still an important part of the city, and adobe houses and stores were numerous elsewhere. The residences were nearly all of the cottage order, and few business buildings rose above two stories. The only
blocks of importance were those named after Baker, Temple and Downey, the first named being really the only building in the city of any architectural pretensions. In the last-named was located the office of this paper.

Much business yet clustered about the Plaza, around the little park in the center of which was a handsome row of well-trimmed cypress trees. The business center was then at the Temple Block, the business quarter being bounded on the north by the Plaza and on the south by First street. Where the Nadeau Hotel now stands was a German butcher shop, in an adobe building back of which was a horse corral and hay yard. Adjoining on Spring street on the south was a
planing mill. Spring street, south of First, had more bare lots than
residences and no stores, for business had not then begun to move so far south.

Property on Spring street, between First and Second, was sold at $150 a foot, which was considered a very high price. At two other corners of First and Spring were a saloon and a coal-yard. The Wilcox Block on North Spring, where Jevne's grocery now is, was the only good business building on Spring street. Where the Phillips Block now stands was an old one-story adobe building used as a city jail.

On First street there was no business east of Los Angeles street, the road being very bad. Los Angeles street was then, as now, the principal wholesale business street. Main street was then the leading residence street. I. W. Hellman, Gov. Downey and John Jones had fair residences there. On Broadway--then Fort street--were a few cottages. There were a few scattering residences out to the west as far as Pearl street. Even at that time Figueroa was considered a fine residence street, there being residences here and there as far south as Adams street, and on the latter street a number of houses had been built around the Longstreet tract, of a character that was then considered superior. The houses on other streets in the neighborhood were mostly shanties. Below Eighth street most of the town was planted in barley. Acreage in the Morris Vineyard tract, between Pico and Washington, near Main, was offered at $900.

Up Temple street, near Bunker Hill avenue, was a deep cut. Here an old frame and muslin building, called the Pavilion, stood almost alone. There were scarcely any buildings on the hills west of Bunker Hill avenue. Lots were offered this side of the hill at $100 apiece, without finding many buyers. Second street, west of Hill, was nothing but a wagon track. Beaudry was trying to supply the hills with water, which he succeeded in doing after a time. East of Main, both north and south at First street, there was quite a settlement of small buildings. Mrs. Woodworth's residence, at the corner of San Pedro and Second, was then a stylish place. Orchards and vineyards, on patches of from two to ten acres, covered much of this section.

The only bridge in the city in December, 1881, was that at Aliso street {Aliso Road - Ed.}, the Downey avenue bridge having been built very shortly afterward. East Los Angeles was a small settlement, consisting chiefly of Downey avenue, then recently laid out. Lots on the avenue were valued at about $100 apiece, and one groceryman was slowly starving to death. On Boyle Heights there were half a dozen houses, chief among which were the residences of Cummings, Hollenbeck and W. H. Workman. Where the Cummings Hotel now stands a Spaniard kept a little flour and plenty of whiskey. Teams stopped there as the "last chance" this side of Downey.


This article suggests that the Downey Road (Ave) was built not earlier than 1881. However, the Photograph from the USC Digital Archive says that the photograph of Downey Road Bridge was taken between 1872 - 74 and the LA Times article below says it was built in 1876.

Downey Ave was later renamed North Spring Street which is not connected with Spring Street. However Downey Park is still there right next to the LA River and North Spring Street.

North Spring Street Bridge To be Demolished

Written by Los Angeles Conservancy

After languishing for years, the proposed widening of the viaduct is suddenly on the fast track for approval.

Although environmental review for the project started nearly four years ago, the project is now on an extraordinarily accelerated timeline, with the BOE rushing to receive City Council approval by June in order to keep state matching funds that are about to expire. The project would be funded primarily through the federal Highway Bridge Program, augmented by state and local funds provided through Proposition 1B and Proposition C.

The BOE’s primary justification for the project is to upgrade the bridge to meet “major highway standards” and to add pedestrian-bicycle lanes in both directions. In addition to stripping all existing ornamentation, the scale and dimensions of the bridge will be dramatically altered by nearly doubling its current width from 50 feet to 90 feet. No new traffic lanes will be added.

Although environmental review for the proposed widening project started nearly four years ago, the BOE didn’t release the draft environmental impact report (EIR) until March 2010. Less than three weeks after the close of the public comment period, the city issued a hastily prepared final EIR in May.

The primary justification for the project is to upgrade the bridge to meet “major highway standards” and add pedestrian lanes in both directions. The current four-lane bridge would be widened by approximately twenty feet on each side to accommodate new eight-foot-wide sidewalks, five-foot-wide shoulders, and a center median with left-turn lanes at each end. Traffic capacity would remain the same.

The Conservancy’s initial comments on the project, submitted in October 2006, sought detailed consideration of an alternative that would leave the historic bridge intact and construct a stand-alone pedestrian crossing alongside it. This option was quickly rejected by BOE without full analysis in the draft EIR, even though the city is favoring a similar approach for upgrading the Riverside-Zoo Drive Bridge.

In reviewing the North Spring Street Viaduct project on April 15, 2010, several members of the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission expressed anger and frustration over the compressed timeline for the project and their apparent powerlessness to alter its course. “I feel that we have our hands tied behind our backs,” lamented Commission President Richard Barron, “and we’re watching the guillotine smash [the viaduct]. It’s sad, it’s sad.”

In addition to limiting opportunities for meaningful public comment, the hastened project schedule has contributed to significant errors and omissions in the draft EIR.

It fails to acknowledge the bridge’s status as a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument and, consequently, does not evaluate the project’s potential impacts on HCM eligibility. Such oversights cast serious doubt on the city’s willingness to thoroughly consider less harmful preservation alternatives to the proposed project.

After reviewing the project in May, the Conservancy’s board of directors unanimously voted to make preservation of the North Spring Street Viaduct a priority.

We have been coordinating our advocacy efforts with residents, stakeholders, and community groups on both sides of the Los Angeles River, with many attending a June 2 Board of Public Works hearing on the final EIR. With the final City Council vote anticipated in mid-June, Councilmember Ed Reyes (whose district includes the bridge) has not publicly stated his position on the project.


EAST LOS ANGELES [Today Lincoln Heights] Our Flourisning Suburb Across the River

Los Angeles Times - May 24, 1885

History of East Los Angeles [Excerpt]

In 1870 the site of East Los Aneles was a sheep pasture, over which the animals with the traditional golden hoof wandered as will. The only residence on the tract was the adobe known as the Chavez place, which had been built for thirty or forty years, and was of exactly the same appearance as the numerous other adobes which may be found in the valleys about Los Angeles where the march of improvement has not swept them away...

The great central avenue of East Los Angeles, called Downey avenue in honor of Ex-Governor Downey, was about this time [1875] completed, and just ten years ago for fully a mile, pepper trees were planted on both sides of this street and carefully attended to. The result at the present time is that Downey avenue is one of the most beautiful thoroughfares in the city. The graceful trees trees have thrived and their grateful shade is much appreciated during the warm days of the long California summer.

IN JANUARY 1876 the outlook for East Los Angeles was rather dubious. Outside of the Johnson or Chapman place there were but twenty or thirty small houses and the growing young city to the west did not seem likely to turn in any other direction. There were many that predicted that East Los Angeles would never be any more than it was then, and the wise real estate agents talked corner lots at Santa Monica and discouraged investments across the river. The building of the bridge and street car line soon made in charge for the better...

The San Gabriel Valley Railroad, now being constructed, passes through East Los Angeles and will give steam communication with the center of the city. The East Los Angeles station will be a street convenient to the center of the district.

NEW BRIDGE OVER RIVER - Talk of Substitute for the Abandoned Viaduct

Los Angeles Times - June 23rd 1904

A Line from Downey Avenue to Fremont Gate - Important Trolley Changes May be Made

A big new trolley-car bridge over the Los Angeles River may be built in the near future.

The proposed location is from the Fremont Gate of Elysian Park to the end of present Downey-avenue bridge.

The purpose of the structure is to avoid rebuilding the now-abandoned viaduct which used to carry the Downey-avenue cars over the top of the Southern Pacific Rail years at River Station.

The viaduct has not been used for some time and the Downey-avenue cars have been taking a temporary route - a surface route winding around the tracks. The placae over which it is now said to be the company's purpose to build a bridge has but few tracks.

The west end is at a bold bluff; the course goes diagonally over the river and ends near the present end of the Downey-avenue bridge.

The report is that important railroad changes will go with the new bridge. The little river station is now on the line of the Downey-avenue cars, at the east end of the abandoned viaduct.

A plan seriously discussed is to move this depot near to the west end of the new bridge. Steps will be built up from the depot to the cars at the bridge. The Santa Fe will also be easy access.

If this change is made it will bring about a change in the time-honored route of the old Downey-avenue cars.

They will leave the old line at Bellevue avenue and follow Garvanza route to Fremont gate, a distance of half a mile, then branch off over this bridge and join again the present track of the Downey-avenue line on the East Side.

This will cut out a few blocks of Sonoratown and the blocks along the front of the railroad yard.

The reason for the projected bridge is said to be the difficulty of finding a safe route across the river where it is so twined about and strewn with railroad tracks. The rebuilding of the viaduct is said to have been abandoned on account of the increased weight of the present-day trolley cars over the old cable cars for which the viaduct was built.


Concrete arch bridge over Los Angeles River on North Spring Street in Los Angeles
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California
Open to traffic
Future prospects
The city's Bureau of Engineering (BOE) is rushing to approve a project that would dramatically widen the North Spring Street Viaduct -- nearly doubling its width, stripping away all historic ornamentation, and eliminating the bridge's eligibility as a city landmark.
Built 1928; Rehabilitated 1939; Seismic upgrade 1992
- John C. Shaw
- Western Construction Co.
Open-spandrel concrete arch
Length of largest span: 146.0 ft.
Total length: 682.1 ft.
Deck width: 39.7 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Downey Avenue Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+34.07056, -118.22500   (decimal degrees)
34°04'14" N, 118°13'30" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
11/386964/3770656 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Los Angeles
Average daily traffic (as of 2010)
Inventory numbers
CA 53C-859 (California bridge number)
BH 11022 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of June 2017)
Overall condition: Fair
Superstructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 61.1 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • September 23, 2017: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • September 22, 2017: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • July 25, 2017: Updated by Luke: Removed predecessor build date
  • September 9, 2014: New photos from Royce and Bobette Haley
  • August 26, 2011: Updated by David Kimbrough: Updated with an map from 1894 and correct the title
  • January 4, 2011: New Street View added by David Kimbrough
  • December 26, 2010: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • December 25, 2010: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • December 18, 2010: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • December 17, 2010: Essay added by David Kimbrough
  • December 4, 2010: Essay added by David Kimbrough
  • December 2, 2010: New photos from David Kimbrough
  • November 24, 2010: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • November 23, 2010: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • June 4, 2010: Essay added by David Kimbrough
  • January 2, 2009: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • December 30, 2008: Essay added by David Kimbrough
  • December 24, 2008: Updated by David Kimbrough
  • December 18, 2008: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • November 3, 2008: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • June 6, 2008: Updated by David Kimbrough
  • May 11, 2008: New photos from David Kimbrough

Related Bridges 


  • David Kimbrough - kimbrough-photo [at] charter [dot] net
  • Royce and Bobette Haley - roycehaley111 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Luke


North Spring Street over the Los Angeles River
Posted August 23, 2009, by S.Marm (sandorocks [at] ymail [dot] com)

"Downey Road" should not be confused with "Downey Avenue." Downey Road still exists in more easterly East Los Angeles next to Calvary cemetery and other cemeteries.

North Spring Street over the Los Angeles River
Posted September 20, 2008, by Joe (linton [dot] joe [at] gmail [dot] com)

Photo 1 is incorrectly identified. It's of the North Main Street Bridge, not the North Spring Street Bridge.