Preservation Magazine, Summer 2016

Transitions: Lost—Sixth Street Viaduct

Sixth Street Viaduct, Los Angeles

photo by: LOC/HAER CA-176

This circa 1932 bridge was described as being one moderate earthquake away from collapse by the California Department of Transportation.

In each Transitions section of Preservation magazine, we highlight places of local and national importance that have recently been restored, are currently threatened, have been saved from demolition or neglect, or have been lost. Here's one from Summer 2016.

This circa 1932 bridge linking downtown Los Angeles to the city’s Boyle Heights neighborhood was beloved by Angelenos. Throughout its lifespan, however, the concrete-and-steel structure was plagued by an alkali-silica reaction, which causes cracking and weakening in concrete. This condition undermined the bridge’s structural integrity and made it unsafe for cars and pedestrians. Described by the California Department of Transportation as being one moderate earthquake away from collapse, it was closed in January. The Classical Moderne–style span, which stretched two-thirds of a mile long, appeared in numerous movies, including Grease, Terminator 2, and Terminator 3, and in dozens of television shows and music videos. In October 2015, hundreds of people gathered on the bridge to say farewell. Demolition began in February and will occur in stages. Construction on a new Sixth Street Viaduct is slated for completion in 2019.

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Katherine Flynn is a former assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores, and uncovering the stories behind historic places.


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