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Saying Goodbye to the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge and Dreams of a High-Line-Style Park

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This past weekend, locals and public-space diehards gathered for a wake on the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge, which spans the LA River from Elysian Valley to Cypress Park. The bridge is set to be demolished today, per an order made back in 2006. Despite every effort, the old bridge—a patchwork built between 1928 and the 1950s—will not become a High-Line-style linear public plaza, and it won't even be preserved in case the city ever decides the public plaza plan is feasible. (Last week, a judge denied a temporary restraining order that would've kept the bridge in place a little longer.) A replacement next to the old bridge is not quite finished, but has now opened to car traffic.

Two years after the city made the decision to build a new bridge and tear down the old one, the Riv-Fig Bridge was given landmark status, and last year a group of architects started putting together a plan to turn it into a park. Excitement was high—Los Angeles has been making an amazing push toward more public space in the last few years—but the Bureau of Engineering refused to even consider the idea. Preservationists alleged they even manipulated cost estimates so that the City Council wouldn't even study the matter, but either way, the matter was not studied and the city is reportedly stubbornly moving ahead with demolition.

LA Creek Freak ran a fantastic (illustrated) post on the bridge's history a few years ago—it's composed of the river span, plus a "sidehill viaduct" that gives it an L-shape on the west bank, plus an approach ramp on the east that runs over Avenue 19. Work began on the concrete bridge in 1927 and finished in 1928; the sidehill viaduct was added in 1929, after which, LACF writes, "it begins to go downhill" with a landslide, flooding, and the infamous concrete channeling of the river, which eventually required an almost-entirely-new bridge with a similar deck but new steel trussing underneath (pieces from the old concrete bridge and sidewalk are still around, for now).

Intrepid Curbed photog Elizabeth Daniels visited the span last weekend; say goodbye with these photos.

· LA Refusing To Even Consider An Elysian Valley Bridge Park [Curbed LA]
· Say Goodbye to the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge [LACF]