Leonard Maltin on the Movies - Off-Ramp for December 3, 2011

Secrets under LA's 7th Street Bridge

Jerry Gorin/KPCC

The 7th Street Bridge is actually 2 bridges built in 1910 and 1927 that are stacked on top of each other.

Jerry Gorin/KPCC

Live train tracks run underneath the bridge on both sides of the river.

Jerry Gorin/KPCC

Some roots and trees have sprouted inside the 7th Street Bridge. The space between the top and bottom bridges has been mostly abandoned since 1927.

Jerry Gorin/KPCC

Architect Arthur Golding proposes one idea for entry to the 7th Street Bridge that includes building a median walkway and an elevator to take visitors below the road.

Arthur Golding/Arthur Golding and Associates

Golding's proposal for the 7th Street Bridge is called the Mercado del Rio, a festive marketplace with eateries and craft vendors.

Arthur Golding/Arthur Golding and Associates

Golding's proposal for the 7th Street Bridge is called the Mercado del Rio, a festive marketplace with eateries and craft vendors.

Jerry Gorin/KPCC

The inside of the 7th Street Bridge. The bottom of the bridge is filled with earth, pipes and beams run horizontally, and concrete pillars hold up the roof.

Jerry Gorin/KPCC

The inside of the 7th Street Bridge. Lots of graffiti covers the pipes, beams and pillars criss-crossing through the space.

Jerry Gorin/KPCC

A view between the pillars looking southeast.

Jerry Gorin/KPCC

View north down the L.A. River toward the 6th Street Bridge.

Jerry Gorin/KPCC

Joe Linton blogs for L.A. Creak Freak. His rare photos helped architect Arthur Golding design plans for the interior of the 7th Street Bridge.


Most of the bridges that cross the LA River are your standard single-deck bridge. They might be pretty to look at, but one of the bridges has a secret world beneath it, and there's a plan, at least, to open it up to the public.

Before 1927, crossing the 7th street Bridge was a traffic nightmare. Train tracks blocked traffic on both sides and city planners knew they had to build over them. But instead of tearing down the old bridge, they built a new span on top of the old one, and the space beneath has been sitting idle for 80 years. Arthur Golding, an architect who’s always had a passion for bridges, recently began a project to convert the unused space below the 7th Street Bridge into an open-air marketplace.

“It can be a kind of Mercado – I call it the Mercado del Rio – where there are shops, restaurants, and craft and art venues.”

Golding has put together a lengthy proposal full of drawings and measured floor plans - but he’s never actually been inside the space. He’s only looked at archived material from the L.A. City Bureau of Engineers, and some photos taken by a blogger named Joe Linton, one of the few people to have gone inside the bridge.

“We came out here one afternoon," Linton says. "And by hook or by crook, kind of a figured out a way in. From the outside it looks like this tiny space, but once you get in you realize it’s not small. And the views are incredible.”

Golding’s plan still has many obstacles before it breaks ground, including building at least one entry that doesn’t require risky climbing. But city officials think it’s an inspired idea, and have added it to a growing list of projects for the L.A. River.

More from Blogdowntown: River Revitalization Corp Sees a Retail Future for the Historic 7th Street Viaduct.


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