A Bridge Worth Crossing

It was a bridge for pedestrians, rather than vehicles, but it was still a crucial part of the city of San Diego’s infrastructure when it opened in 1911.

“Longest Suspended Foot Bridge on Coast is Opened to Travel,” was the headline on page 8 of The San Diego Union on November 21, 1911.

As demonstrated by the photo below,  which accompanied the Union article, it was a serious suspension bridge.

It needed to be, carrying 375 feet of wooden walkway across a 70 feet deep canyon along Spruce Street between Front and Brant Streets. Steel cables strung from its two towers were anchored in concrete piers at each end of what was then called Paloma Canyon. The bridge designer, San Diego City Engineer Edwin M. Capps, told the Union the bridge was “the longest of its kind west of the Rocky Mountains.” The bridge was built to facilitate pedestrian access to trolley lines connecting downtown and uptown San Diego. This meant, in the Union reporter’s words, that “residents in what was formerly considered an inaccessible neighborhood are now within easy walking distance of the carline and 102 lots previously isolated have sprung into desireability.”

Today, the canyon is called Sessions, and the formerly “inaccessible” community is now the bustling neighborhood of Bankers Hill. But the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge remains as a bridge worth crossing. Here’s a view taken just last week by my wife and I on a walking tour of Bankers Hill:

It’s worth a crossing today not so much as a vital transit link as much as a graceful visual link affording some beautful views from its walkway, as well as lessons in how to walk carefully across a wooden walkway suspended over a canyon.

Sources for this post included historic San Diego newspapers and the book, San Diego Architecture: From mansions to modern: a guide to the buildings, planning, people and spaces that shape the region, by Dirk Sutro.


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