How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Crossing the river: One reader's reflection on L.A.'s First Street Bridge

Photo by aarline.info/Flickr (Creative Commons)


The iconic First Street Bridge, which spans the Los Angeles River between downtown and Boyle Heights, was reopened to the public yesterday after a years-long widening project.

Dating to the late 1920s, the bridge has been a fixture in the lives of generations of the mostly Latino Eastside residents who cross it on a daily basis as they head west to work, then back home again. Along with a series of nearby bridges, it spans not only the concrete-lined river, but one of the city's most tangible divisions of culture and class.

In a post Monday, I asked readers to share a bit about the role the bridge has played in their lives. Here's what Erick Huerta, aka blogger and Boyle Heights local El Random Hero, wrote:

One of the things I’ll always miss is the art all over the river. Riding my bike over the bridge on an almost daily basis, different times of the day, it was panoramic to say the least.

Catching the reflection of the sun off the DTLA sky scrapers, hearing the hum of the river after it rains, and feeling the breeze as you make you way across. Not to mention that I always give a stink eye to hipsters trying to have photo shoots once in a while.

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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.

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