This past January marked the 20th anniversary of the Northridge earthquake – a quake which shook the Franklin Avenue Bridge to its core. A survey of the structure after the quake showed the bridge required major retrofitting, which the Franklin Hills Resident Association reported was completed in 1998 at a cost of $1.5 million.While they were at work on the bridge city officials went the extra mile on aesthetics as well, installing electrical outlets so that the bridge may be illuminated during the holidays.
That little bridge, 30 feet wide and 260 long, is also affectionately known as the Shakespeare Bridge. Architect J.C. Wright helmed the project which cost $59,690, notes the Franklin Hills Resident Association. Wright designed a quaint Gothic bridge complete with turrets and towers, arches and spandrel columns with three arch spans. Those very arches span the ravine where a stream, the Arroyo de la Sacatela, once flowed. While the bridge now connects a neighborhood packed with homes, photos from 1928 in Big Orange Landmarks show the pristine bridge and only a few structures scattered on the nearby hills.
It is today, a beloved landmark (declared a city landmark in 1974) but at the time of its building in 1926, the neighborhood residents were none to happy, writes Los Angeles Art Deco. Another website, Bridge Hunter, came across a 1924 L.A. Times story saying the Los Feliz Improvement Assn. opposed requiring nearby property owners to pay for the bridge, arguing that the span would only benefit the owners of a hill who subdivide and develop the site. If the owners of the hill wanted a bridge, then the owners of the hill should pay for it, the improvement association said. “Such bridge will be a wonderful value and great financial benefit in the exploitation of the hill property referred to, but no material benefit to the public at large,” according to the Times.
How did the span become known as the Shakespeare Bridge? We really could not find an answer to that. Clearly the residents of Franklin Hills fancied their little Arroyo de la Sacatela the River Avon, and its elegant structure their very own Clopton Bridge – or perhaps they did at least in their wildest Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The Shakespeare Bridge in the Franklin Hills section of Los Angeles, California, was built in 1926. It is made of concrete and decorated in a Gothic style. It was named after famous playwright William Shakespeare and later designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument 126 in 1974.
The bridge was rebuilt in 1998 after the Northridge earthquake due to concerns that the structure would not be stable in the event of an earthquake in the Franklin Hills area. As part of the seismic retrofit, the deck, sidewalks, and railings were removed and reconstructed using reinforced concrete. The expansion joints were also removed, so the bridge deck is now a one-piece structural diaphragm built to transfer all seismic forces into the abutment walls at either end of the bridge. All of the rebuilding was done in an effort to preserve the historic appearance of the bridge.