4 votes

Cesar Chavez Avenue Bridge (1926)


Arch Looking South on Bridge



BH Photo #113984

Street Views 

A Brief Mention of the Bridge in the Los Angeles Times February 16, 1887 

Transcribed by David Kimbrough - Sent by Telegraph to the LA Times

"THE STORM" - The Situation of Yesterday Fully Set Forth. Condition of all Bridges - The Danger Believed to be Over.

The accurate and comprehensive reports printed in yesterday's TIMES brought every detail of information concerning the storm down to 4 a.m.yesterday. At that hour the moon was out feebly, and the clouds were pretty well broken through the sky. The worst of the storm and its results then seemed to be over....At noon a TIMES reporter began a personal round of inspection of the whole district affected by the flood...

"The Covered Bridge"

A visit was next made to the honest old structure, which spans the river at its narrowest point (at Macy street) - the only bridge of any sort, railroad or carriage in the city limits which never goes back on its patrons. A rumor was prevalent that it had sagged badly and was dangerous. The TIMES man crossed it twice and found it straight as the geometric shortest line between two points. Such an idea as sagging had never entered its faithful old head. It was very much used yesterday by all sorts of vehicles, as it afforded the only way of getting to the east side with horses.

Chapter VII EXISTING AND PROPOSED BRIDGES - Macy and Aliso Streets

California Railroad Commission - Engineering Department - 1920

Macy and Aliso Streets should be considered together. From the evidence presented, there was some question as to whether one or two bridges should be built, and if one, which street. Macy Street has several advantages over Aliso:

1. It is a shorter approach on the east side.
2. The crossing of the river is more nearly a right angle, and, therefore, a more economical bridge is possible.
3. Macy Street connects two very important main thoroughfares - Sunset Boulevard and Mission Road.
4. Lyon, Howard, and Center Streets lead from Macy Street into Aliso Street diagonally; thus a bridge on Macy Street would serve both streets.
5. Macy Street and Brooklyn Avenue already have an existing car route of the Los Angeles Railway.

Aliso Street has some points in its favor:
1. It is wider than Macy Street, having a width of 90 feet, while Macy Street is but 80 feet wide.
2. It is somewhat more direct. However, it is practically the same distance from Mission Road and Macy Street to Lyon and Aliso Streets via Lyon and Macy Streets and via Aliso Street.

The district east of the river and between Macy and First Streets is conveniently served either by First Street or by Macy Street. Aliso Street, east of the river, is unimportant and it finally intersects with Macy Street, which is know as Brooklyn on the east side of the river.

Page 166 (170)


Written by B. L. Lewis May 5, 1921

The seventh franchise issued was approved June 26, 1875, the opening clause of which reads as follows:

"AN ORDINANCE granting a franchise for street railroad in the City of Los Angeles to William H. Workman and A. H. Judson and their assigns. "—and provided for a franchise for a period of thirty years, for a single track horsecar line. Route, from Arcadia and Main Streets, via Arcadia, Aliso Street, Aliso Avenue to Soto Street. This road was put in operation sometime in 1876.

The builders of this road were

* W. H. Workman,
* W. H. Perry,
* J. B. Hollenbeck, first President of the First National Bank, and
* E. F. Spence, then Cashier and later President of the First National Bank

The track was a narrow gauge; used twenty-pound rail; one horsecar was operated; trip every one and a half hours.

Routing the line, as it would read today would be Arcadia, Aliso Street, Pleasant Avenue, First to Soto. At that time Aliso Street started at Los Angeles and continued along this route east to the city limits on First Street. This line was extended a few months later on Main Street to Temple Block to connect with the Spring and Sixth Street line and the Main Street and Agricultural Park Line.

First Street was not opened at this time.

At Easter Week in 1884, floods destroyed the Aliso Street Bridge and the Downey Avenue Bridge and left the Macy Street bridge—these being the only bridges across the Los Angeles River at that time.

For months after the flood the passengers from the Aliso Street car line walked over improvised gangplanks to cross the river and were thus transferred from car to car. This was the second line put in operation in Los Angeles. The Main Street and Agricultural Park line being the third.

The framework of the Macy Street Bridge today is the original bridge construction, but at that time it was covered. This covering was removed a few years ago.



Open spandrel Concrete arch bridge over Los Angeles River on E Cesar E Chavez Ave/Macy Street
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California
Open to traffic
Built 1926; Seismic retrofit 1993-95
- Merrill Butler
- Interurban
- Los Angeles Railway (LARy)
- Los Angeles Transit Lines (LATL)
- Pacific Electric Railway (PE)
- Streetcar
HAER No. CA-277: Symmetrical reinforced concrete bridge, 70.5 feet wide and 1,027 feet long with 29 spans, one arch span, four lanes and a cantilevered walkway. The counterfort rigid frame reinforced U-shaped concrete abutments, approach spans of reinforced concrete T beams, and reinforced concrete slabs are supported by four reinforced concrete columns. Its mainspan is a reinforced concrete, open spandrel fixed elliptical, four-ribbed arch 215 feet in diameter. As built, it contained 14,000 cubic yards of concrete and 1,450,000 pounds of steel. Roadway width is 56 feet between concrete curbs; two sidewalks measure 5 '8".
Length of largest span: 240.2 ft.
Total length: 1,027.0 ft.
Deck width: 56.1 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Macy Street Bridge (1926)
Macy Street Bridge (1926)
Approximate latitude, longitude
+34.05472, -118.22667   (decimal degrees)
34°03'17" N, 118°13'36" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
11/386789/3768902 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Los Angeles
Average daily traffic (as of 2018)
Inventory numbers
CA 53C-130 (California bridge number)
BH 11005 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of August 2018)
Overall condition: Good
Superstructure condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 88.6 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • February 21, 2021: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • January 3, 2020: New photo from Geoff Hubbs
  • September 22, 2017: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • September 17, 2017: Updated by David Kimbrough: Added information from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works
  • September 5, 2014: Updated by Luke: Added categories "Streetcar", "Los Angeles Railway", "Railroad", "Rail-and-road"
  • September 4, 2014: New photos from Royce and Bobette Haley
  • August 26, 2011: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • January 22, 2011: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • December 25, 2010: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • December 4, 2010: Essay added by David Kimbrough
  • December 2, 2010: Essay added by David Kimbrough
  • November 26, 2010: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • November 24, 2010: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • November 23, 2010: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • November 21, 2010: New Street View added by Nathan Holth
  • November 21, 2010: Essay added by David Kimbrough
  • February 23, 2010: Updated by Craig Philpott: Corrected design
  • January 6, 2009: Updated by David Kimbrough: update year built
  • January 3, 2009: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • December 19, 2008: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • December 18, 2008: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • October 30, 2008: New photo from David Kimbrough
  • September 16, 2008: Updated by David Kimbrough
  • August 8, 2008: Updated by David Kimbrough
  • May 5, 2008: Updated by David Kimbrough

Related Bridges 



Cesar Chavez Ave. (Macy Street) over the Los Angeles River
Posted May 14, 2013, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Thanks for the link. Those are some interesting photographs.

Cesar Chavez Ave. (Macy Street) over the Los Angeles River
Posted May 14, 2013, by Bridget (samhansom [at] gmail [dot] com)


My grandfather was a civil engineer in the 1920s working on a lot of the LA bridges. Not al the photos he has of construction are labelled but you may like them.