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April 10 panel discussion and April 13 bilingual "Bridge Mix" tour/activity day offer something for everyone

February 14, 2008

LOS ANGELES—When is a bridge more than a bridge? When it’s part of a singular collection of iconic structures that help tell the story of Los Angeles’ development over the past century. Yet many of these historic spans are slated for alteration and, in some cases, demolition. On January 30, 2008, 11 historic bridges over the Los Angeles River were designated as city Historic-Cultural Landmarks. While this ensures a role for the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission in reviewing proposed widening and replacement projects, it does not prevent outright demolition. The fate of the bridges will remain a topic of debate for years to come.

To enlighten and educate in a fun, interactive way, the Los Angeles Conservancy, the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), and Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) have joined forces to celebrate these bridges with two special events in April as part of “Spanning History: The Bridges of the Los Angeles River.”

Panel discussion – Thursday, April 10, 7 p.m., at the Getty Center – As part of its Conservation Matters lecture series, the Getty Conservation Institute will host a panel discussion regarding the status of, and plans for, the bridges. The panel will be moderated by Larry Mantle, host of 89.3 KPCC’s AirTalk, and will include noted bridge experts and preservationists. The event is free, but reservations are required.

“Bridge Mix” – Sunday, April 13, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., various locations – This family-friendly tour and activity day will highlight four of the historic bridges on the east and west banks of the river between downtown and Boyle Heights. After docents give a brief history of each bridge, a range of hands-on activities will explore a special theme at each site:

• First Street: Architecture and Engineering – Learn how bridges are built, what makes them stay up and fall down, and how the L.A. River bridges compare and contrast to other famous bridges in the U.S.

• Fourth Street: History and Movie Lore – Special guests Merrill Butler III (grandson of the bridges’ original designer) and Harry Medved (author of Hollywood Escapes) will discuss and illustrate the bridges’ rich history and countless film appearances, from the 1954 sci-fi classic Them! to last year’s hit film Transformers.

• Sixth Street: River Science and Ecology – Try your hand at water testing and learn how a rare degenerative chemical reaction is affecting the iconic Sixth Street Viaduct, with explanations from GCI and FoLAR experts.

• Seventh Street: Los Angeles River Master Plan – See the vision for the river and the bridges, and use interactive models to create your own, with representatives from representatives from the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan, Tetra Tech, FoLAR, the Latino Urban Forum, and Gallery 727.

The entire “Bridge Mix” route spans about 2.5 miles, with two sites on each bank of the river. Shuttle buses will run continuously along the route, and visitors are also encouraged to walk and bike between the sites. All tour literature and events on April 13 will be bilingual (English and Spanish), including a new kids’ guide to the historic river bridges.


Reservations and tickets for both events are available online. The April 10 panel discussion is free, but reservations are required. Tickets for the April 13 “Bridge Mix” are  $25 for Conservancy and FoLAR members, $30 for the general public, and $10 for children 12 and under. For more information, panel reservations and “Bridge Mix” tickets, please visit

About the Bridges:
As Los Angeles' population exploded - and the automobile emerged - in the early twentieth century, the city embarked on an ambitious bridge construction program to accommodate increasing numbers of cars and alleviate traffic snarls on surface streets. The early bridges are monumental in design and massive in scale, with some more than 3,000 feet long. The styles of the bridges evolved over time, from an early preference for highly ornamental, classical designs (Macy Street, Ninth Street), to simpler, period revival styles (Fourth Street, First Street), and ultimately adopting clean, modern lines (Glendale-Hyperion, Sixth Street). Twenty-seven bridges now span the Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments (local landmarks).

About the Event Partners:
The Los Angeles Conservancy
is a nonprofit organization that works through education and advocacy to recognize, preserve, and revitalize the historic architectural and cultural resources of Los Angeles County.

The Getty Conservation Institute works internationally to advance conservation in the visual arts. The institute serves the conservation community through scientific research, education and training, model field projects, and the dissemination of information.

The Friends of the Los Angeles River is a nonprofit organization founded in 1986 to protect and restore the natural and historic heritage of the Los Angeles River and its riparian habitat through inclusive planning, education, and wise stewardship.

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Beth Laski
Getty Communications

Cindy Olnick
Los Angeles Conservancy

About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

Sign up for e-Getty at to receive free monthly highlights of events at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa via e-mail, or visit our event calendar for a complete calendar of public programs.