Multi-American

How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

What's your First Street Bridge story?

Photo by aarline.info/Flickr (Creative Commons)

As far as bridges go, it's neither tall, spectacular nor a tourist attraction. But in the hearts of generations of Angelenos who have grown up crossing it, the First Street Bridge holds a special place. The bridge spans not only the Los Angeles River, but a stark division of culture, race and class in the city. It's only one of a series of bridges built in the early decades of the last century that connect downtown with the Eastside (the real Eastside, as in east of the river), but this one leads into the center of its cultural heart, Boyle Heights.

The bridge officially reopens Tuesday after a years-long widening project to accommodate the Gold Line. Driving across it - whether heading west toward the gleaming downtown office buildings, or east toward home - has always been special for me, having grown up crossing back and forth over the river during my upbringing in Huntington Park. From the bridge it was east on First, then right on Soto, then south past the Vernon factories to Gage.

For those whose slice of L.A. has included the First Street Bridge, what are your memories of the bridge? What does it represent for you?

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