Celebrating the Colorado Street Bridge in a virtual fashion – Pasadena Star News

As I was buying my ticket to the Colorado Street Bridge Party, that every-other-summer celebration of the iconic span that is a benefit for premier preservation outfit Pasadena Heritage, I naturally reflected on the virtual-ness of it all.

Because, no, my ducat this year will not entitle me to stroll the length of the historic bridge over the Arroyo Seco on a hot Saturday night, drinking a Craftsman lager and seeing everyone I know.

As I mentioned two weeks ago, the event, originally scheduled for July, will take place instead inside your computer screen from this Sunday, Aug. 9, through next Saturday, Aug. 15.

Sunday features a custom and classic car cruise — video of the fancy vehicles usually parked at the east end of the bridge. Monday there will be a lecture on the history of the bridge by Pasadena writer Chip Jacobs, whose debut novel, “Arroyo,” is a totally fun historical fiction based around the construction of the bridge in 1911 I reviewed here a few months ago.

Later in the week there are music videos featuring surf band The Jimbonaires — name the Greene & Greene garage door it sets up in front of after driving over the bridge with the amps and axes in a VW van — and other regulars.

But I noticed that Tuesday night, Aug. 11, at 6 p.m. there is also a serious and newsy topic, a panel discussion on fencing for the bridge that many of us believe is only prudent to reverse a new rash of jumpers. Yes, some locals have always called the structure Suicide Bridge; the deaths are nothing new. That doesn’t mean they can’t be prevented.

I emphatically disagree with those who believe, or pretend to, that since there are other ways of killing oneself, that means we don’t need to shore up the bridge for safety. In fact, to the suicidal, the bridge is an attractive nuisance. It’s like a gun cabinet left unlocked — it creates its own havoc. And it’s an engineering problem that can be solved without destroying the bridge’s aesthetics.

It made me think of a wrongheaded email string sent out to journalists, politicians and neighborhood leaders last week by an acquaintance and commented on by a friend.

Acquaintance: “Being as I am for both Preservation and FREEDOM, I am against further altering the bridge to deprive people of a method of suicide. The enormous a-historical iron works erected above the historical rail height are bad enough, the additional mesh is revolting and if one wanted to commit suicide enough to climb the ironworks, the mesh is an aid, not a barrier. Take it and damn iron forks down and let people at their wits end feel they have some meaning, some last connection to Pasadena’s history, by taking their lives on the bridge.”

Can’t quite recall ever reading anything more wrong. (Almost) comically so. The very notion that it’s a mitzvah to give suicidal people a last historical connection to the city is so callous and dumb that it belongs in some absurdist Onion parody of architectural preservation. These public suicides, and attempted ones, don’t just cause one person harm — they traumatize police and firefighters called in to try to prevent deaths, or pick up the pieces, and traumatize as well innocent bystanders and neighbors, including children, who are forced witnesses.

Then my friend commented: “How about just put up a few signs with 800 numbers, ‘Call and talk to this person.’”

Those signs have been at the pedestrian entries to the bridge for many years.

The best way to celebrate the beautiful Colorado Street Bridge this summer, along with going to pasadenaheritage.org and signing up for the virtual party, is to advocate for making it a safer place for the rest of its long lifetime.

Wednesday at random:

 

Talking of history, I got some wrong here last week, putting the Sierra Club founder in these parts early by over a decade. From Ed Andersen, John Muir Historian, Arcadia Historical Society: “Muir never saw Southern California until his 1877 trip here to visit Dr. O.H. Conger. The Carrs did not move here until after 1880. The Indiana Colony first arrived in the area in 1873, not in the 1860s as per your column.” The great hiker also didn’t “scramble straight up the face of Mt. Wilson”; he took two days to get there, presumably using ridges. Thanks, Ed! You live and you learn.

Write the public editor at lwilson@scng.com.

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