The Colorado Street Bridge is a century-old Beaux Arts masterpiece that was once part of fabled Route 66, but it may be most notorious for being the site of over 100 suicides since it opened to traffic in 1913. At one point, so many people were jumping from the bridge that the city of Pasadena had a police patrol stationed on the span to prevent suicides. The bridge’s reputation even inspired a local shoe repairman to publish the following bit of doggerel in the Pasadena Star-News:
“I will not jump off the Colorado Bridge
To escape from being in the ditch
With California’s sunshine, mountain view, wine and beer
The temptation is too great for me to live right here
I am content and happy without booze,
All I want is to repair your shoes.”
Most of the reported deaths occurred during the Great Depression, but even today, after being fitted with 8 foot high anti-suicide fences during a 1989 renovation, the bridge exerts a strange attraction on troubled souls.The bridge itself is a curving 1500-foot span that soars 150 feet above the Arroyo Seco, with walkways that offer amazing views to the north and south. Though it was once a main travel artery, the nearby 134 freeway has siphoned most of the car traffic from the bridge, leaving it eerily deserted at times. It’s little wonder that some locals believe the Colorado Street Bridge to be haunted.
At least once, daredevil pilots flew beneath the span of the bridge. Most famously, Arthur Goebel flew with two women standing on his upper wing in 1926. A picture documenting this is part of the Bettman collection on Getty Images. This and other death-defying stunts cause some area natives to postulate that the original nickname for Suicide Bridge came from the dare-devilish acts performed. However, the history indicates that the first documented suicide from the bridge was over a decade before at least the photographed stunt.