Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mystery History -- Solved

Tammy wins with her 8:30 a.m. guess on Tuesday: “The freeway bridge being built next to the Colorado bridge.”

When the Foothill (210) Freeway was planned in the early 1950s, the California Department of Transportation made known its intention to demolish the Colorado Street Bridge. But after much public outcry and appeals from the City of Pasadena and other organizations, Caltrans allowed the bridge to stand and built their own bridge parallel to it.

Pasadena Pioneers Bridge is named for the party of settlers led by Dr. T.B. Elliot, a physician who held meetings in his Indianapolis home for people interested in moving to California and settling where the sun would shine year-round. After extensive fact-finding, the party of settlers came by train, then boat, then wagons to what became the Indiana Colony.

Ground was broken for Pioneers Bridge in 1951. By then, daily traffic on the Colorado Street Bridge was causing stress to that structure to the point where traffic was not allowed during peak hours.

Here’s Pioneers Bridge under construction:

It is 1,364 feet long with three spans and is 131 feet tall. More than 41,000 cubic feet of concrete were used on the project, which includes 5.5 million pounds of reinforced steel. Total cost was $6.5 million. At that time it was the largest bridge ever built by the State of California.

The dedication ceremony on Oct. 8, 1953, was spectacular. The 2 p.m. event included a parade, entertainment and plenty of speechifying. What made it particularly monumental was the presence of a handful of surviving pioneers and many descendants.

The opening signal was given by 95-year-old Jennie Hollingsworth Giddings, whose father had been the first to purchase a lot in the Lake Vineyard area of the colony after owner Benjamin "Don Benito" Wilson parceled off his ranch.

Later in the proceedings the ribbon was cut by Alice Eaton Smith, whose father, Judge Benjamin Eaton, had been a pillar of the Indiana Colony. As she cut the ribbon, Mrs. Smith said, “I dedicate this structure as Pasadena Pioneers Bridge to the memory of all Pasadena pioneers, especially to the 27 founders of the city.”

Here's a photo taken that day:

Other second-generation Pasadenans in attendance were Don C. Porter, Sidney A. Bristol, Lola Bristol Edmondson, Mrs. P.N. Giddings, Miss Barbara Baker, Mrs. John B. Johnson and William B. Hutton.

Additional guests, all introduced by Clarence A. Winder, mayor and chairman of the board of city directors, included California Governor Goodwin J. Knight, members of the U.S. House of Representatives, officials from the California Highway Commission and mayors of neighboring cities.

The keynote speech was given by Harrison R. Baker, vice chairman of the California Highway Commission.

Here’s an excerpt:

Upon another historic date, Dec. 13, 1913, the beautiful Colorado Street Bridge was completed and opened to use – stately in the artistry of its design and adequate for the traffic needs of its day – another step forward. Another landmark in the march of Pasadena’s progress, this great, graceful structure became one of the best-known bridge structures in the west, and stands today as a tribute to the energy and foresight of the pioneers of that day.

They planned so well that we are now preserving this fine old bridge and incorporating it into the freeway pattern of which the new bridge is a part, for the purpose of carrying a parallel service road across the Arroyo Seco.

Today’s ceremony is more than a dedication of a great new structure – it is a dedication in honor of the spirit of the pioneers – particularly that of the 27 founders of Pasadena, but also of the host of other pioneers whose vision and energy have contributed to the building of the community as we know it today.

As to the physical feature of the new bridge, it will combine a modern, new, functional motor vehicle traffic facility with distinctive architectural beauty in harmony with the old companion bridge and with the community character of Pasadena.

The California Highway Commission has been acquiring right-of-way to extend this freeway westerly from Patrician Way to Eagle Vista Drive in the Eagle Rock section of Los Angeles. We hope to construct this link shortly which will give Pasadena a freeway approach from the west connecting with the four-lane divided highway section of Colorado Boulevard through Eagle Rock extending to Glendale.”

I just love old postcards:

This poem, by James W. Foley, was printed on the back page of the program for the day’s festivities:

To the Pioneers of Pasadena

Let us tell of the Pioneers, of the steadfast women and men
Who dreamed a city that should be fair and went and builded it then.
Let us tell of the Pioneers, who came on a barren place
And grubbed and plowed and planted the earth and gave it a smiling face.

Who made it a garden from scrub and sage.
Let us write the names on a golden page
Of the dauntless souls of the hard, lean years,
Let us tell of the Pioneers.

Let us carve us a stone to stand, where the story of them is told,
And mount upon it a granite hand that shall hold a heart of gold.
The hand that grubbed and planted and plowed and made us a grove to grow,
And the heart that was golden with worth and proud that its Master had made it so,

To dream the city that was to be,
To build the house and to plant the tree,
Let us carve us a stone to stand
In the midst of the garden land.

Let us lift up a song of praise and kneel in grateful prayer,
For those who found but a barren land and dreamed of a city fair,
Where mountains rise to the blue of skies and where valleys stretch afar
To the tides of sea, the city to be, where the groves and gardens are.

And ours with a spirit proud and free
To build the greater city to be,
To cherish through all the years
The dreams of the Pioneers.
Foley had been poet laureate of North Dakota before moving to Southern California. He died in 1939 and is buried at Forest Lawn.

Many thanks to Pasadena Public Library and Los Angeles Public Library.


Virginia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
altadenahiker said...

O, this is one of my favorite posts so far.

Bellis said...

I agree with AH, this is such an interesting post. I soak up local history, but I never knew it was built as long ago as 1950, and was called the Pioneer Bridge - I always thought that name referred to the Colorado Street Bridge. I'll be more reverential the next time I hike underneath it.

TAMMY said...

I never knew there was so much history behind that bridge too. I love the old postcard. It sure looks different.

Cafe Observer said...

Of course! The angle of the pic was...Ditto de above!

Petrea said...

Another fantastic post. Brava!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Tammy

I love the old postcards too

Jean Spitzer said...

The next time I look at what I shall now call Pioneers Bridge, I'll think of it differently because of this post. Thanks for the history.