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Curse of "The Suicide Bridge"

Updated on July 11, 2011

The Colorado Street Bridge, better known as “The Suicide Bridge,” in Pasadena, California was constructed in 1913 and has a perilous 150 foot drop to the riverbed below.. Since then, over 150 people have leaped to their death from this structure. Some argue the number is closer to 200. Is the bridge cursed? Many believe it is. Urban legend has it the bridge is haunted.

The bridge spans 1,486 feet across the Arroyo Seco, is over 144-foot high and was part of the original Route 66 until 1940 when the Arroyo Seco Parkway opened. It's known for its distinctive Beaux Arts arches, light standards and artistic designs.

The first suicide took place 6 years after the bridge was opened. After that, so many deaths began to occur a suicide barrier was added. However, the majority were during the Depression. Seventy-nine in the 1930’s alone. Shortly thereafter, tales began of lost souls that jumped to their death but were still haunting the bridge.

Reportedly, the first death to occur at the bridge was not a suicide, but an accident. A construction worker fell into a concrete pit used to support one of the pillars of the bridge. His body was never found. Many say his spirit haunts the bridge, luring others to their deaths. They also claim the street lights turn blue when his presence is lingering.

A tale is told of a despondent mother throwing her baby girl over the railing on May 1, 1937. She then jumped to her death. The child miraculously survived. The child was inadvertently thrown into some nearby trees where she was later recovered.

After the Loma Prieta earthquake near Oakland in 1989, the bridge was declared a seismic hazard and closed. It reopened in1993 after some $27 million dollars in renovation costs. The beautiful concrete bridge spans across a deeply cut canyon linking the San Gabriel Mountains to the Los Angeles River and over Arroyo Seco Stream. The bridge is often incorrectly referred to as the "Arroyo Seco Bridge."

Situated at Colorado Street, Pasadena, “The Suicide Bridge” is a graceful framework of exotic curves and artistically designed supports. "The bridge has a reputation," said Pasadena police Lt. Tom Delgado. "It's known nationwide."

When the historic Colorado Street Bridge was built, crossing the Arroyo Seco was an extremely difficult task. Horses and wagons had to descend the steep, hazardous eastern slope, cross the stream over a small bridge and then ascend the west bank through Eagle Rock Pass.

The bridge was designed and built by the J.A.L. Waddell firm of Kansas City, Missouri. It was named for Colorado Street, now Colorado Boulevard, which was the major east-west thoroughfare through Pasadena at the time. The initial design proved difficult due to finding a solid base in the Arroyo bed.

According to a number of tales spirits are said to wander the bridge as well as the arroyo below. Unexplained cries have been heard emanating from around and below the bridge. One report tells of the ghostly apparition of a man wearing an old fashioned suit and wire rimmed glasses frequently seen wandering the bridge. Others have reported animals in the area, including pets acting strangely in the area, obviously anxious to move on. Homeless people camping under the bridge regularly report seeing ghostly figures and mysterious noises.

Another story tells the tale of a woman in a long flowing robe standing atop one of the parapets. She leaps and then simply disappears. In the arroyo below, ghostly forms have also been seen walking the river bed. The atmosphere around the bridge is often described as "thick.” In more recent incidents, police said a 25-year-old Covina man jumped on April 17 and on April 21 a 49-year-old Altadena woman leaped to her death.

A small team of investigators visited the bridge in hopes of gathering some evidence for the mysterious goings on. According to one investigator they felt: “…the sense of a lady walking the convex side of the bridge, the north side, heading west. She was in a tattered dress which looked like it had once been a drape or sheet, a white knit sweater and barefoot. She was muttering "Who owns my life! Who runs it! It's mine. They do, that's who. I'll SHOW them.”

“We spent our hours wandering around the areas of the bridge and the arroyo below…lots of heavy spots” the investigator continued. “We felt as though tons of weigh twas on us at different points or that we were being watched. Some parts of it felt very abnormal.”

The team said they did get one picture of an apparition that appeared to be a city courier from possibly the 1930s or 1940s and a photo of what they thought was an orb.

Through the years, scenes from TV shows like Sliders, Pasadena and Alias, as well as feature films like Being John Malkovich (1999) and Yes Man starring Jim Carrey (2008) were filmed at the Colorado Street Bridge location.

According to Pasadena’s "Insider's Guide," silent movie star Charlie Chaplin brought the Colorado Street Bridge into the national spotlight in his movie “The Tramp.” In the film, the little tramp saves a young lady from jumping from the bridge.

Today, the bridge is listed in the United States National Register of Historic (and Haunted) Places.


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    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      And there you have it biggest fan! As P.T. Barnum once said....LOL. Love ya Cats!

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      I just love reading your work, JY! Always informative, always amazing and always entertaining. And, as I've said before, you write on many topics which are of great interest to me. Loved this one and, when I return to CA. I will make every effort to visit this historic and reportedly haunted site! It is a beautiful bridge! UP AWESOME

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Alastar, you should know by now all my stuff is good...LOL

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      What a bridge and what a history. Its amazing that baby went into the trees but those kind of miracles happen. Another good one JY.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Thank ya much!

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi JY, I know the bridge well. I have been over it and past it many, many times. Until now, I have never heard anything aout it, or maybe I just never payed any attention before. Thanks for bringing these facts to light. Very interesting. I am not a believer of ghosts, but these kinds of stories interest me. I have been researching haunted places in Cokorado and once I am settled there I will be visiting as many as possible and writing hubs about "my experiences". Maybe deep down I would like it proved to me that they do exist. Thank you for the very informative and interesting hub. You do great work. Greg