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From the Archives: 1924 collapse of bridge over Arroyo Seco

March 7, 1924: Remains of Avenue 26 Bridge, spanning the Arroyo Seco, after collapse killing one man
March 7, 1924: Remains of the Avenue 26 bridge, spanning the Arroyo Seco, after it collapsed, killing one man.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

On March 7, 1924, the Avenue 26 bridge spanning the Arroyo Seco suddenly collapsed. One man was killed in the collapse, and a woman and her young daughter driving over the wooden structure in an automobile were injured. In the photo above, the vehicle is sitting amid bridge wreckage, just to the right of the falling water.

On March 8, 1924, a Los Angeles Times story reported:

The old Avenue 26 bridge, spanning the Arroyo Seco, collapsed with a terrific roar shortly after 3 p.m. yesterday, hurling an unidentified man to his death. A woman and her young daughter, driving over the wooden structure in an automobile, were caught in the collapse and fell fifty feet to the ravine below. The child escaped with minor injuries but the woman is believed to be suffering from internal injuries. Her condition is critical. The cause of the collapse is unknown.…

As if cut away with a huge knife, the bridge fell away from both approaches and with a terrific crash fell apart and plunged into the ravine about fifty feet below. …

Water and gas mains leading across the bridge were broken and telephone wires were snapped off.…

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The 25-year-old bridge had been constructed of wood and iron. It was 126 feet long and was used for both vehicular and foot traffic.

In the March 9, 1924, Los Angeles Times, City Engineer John Griffin is quoted, “We have a number of bridges that were built years ago when there were no automobiles or heavy motor trucks, and these bridges are now flimsy and worn out.”

After the collapse, the city of Los Angeles closed a similar 9th Street bridge. Other bridges were inspected. The March 11, 1924, Los Angeles Times reported that plans for six new bridges moved forward.

See more from the Los Angeles Times archives here


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