The History of Pasadena’s Haunted Suicide Bridge

The Colorado Street Bridge is a historic and beautiful work of art that draws dejected people to its ledges in their most desperate final moments

Heather Monroe

--

Colorado Street Bridge, Pasadena California, 2020, Heather Monroe

Pasadena is a quaint city in Los Angeles, chock-full of adorable turn-of-the last century Craftsman homes. Nestled in the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena is home to the Rose Parade, Rose Bowl, and one famous little old lady.

Spanish explorers to the area in the 18th century called the Tongva indigenous population Gabrielinos, and they called the land Rancho San Pasqual. When the city was incorporated on January 31, 1874, it took the name “Pasadena,” the Ojibwa word for “The Valley.”

Pasadena’s founders set out to build a community for folks who valued honesty, innovation, and sobriety. In this sense, Pasadena hasn’t changed much — it’s residents, for the most part, are upright and goodly.

However, one blight on Pasadena’s beautiful landscape threatens the city’s legacy — Pasadena has a suicide bridge.

Before the Bridge

The historic Colorado Street Bridge was built in 1913 and crosses a seasonal creek bed called the Arroyo Seco. The 150-foot tall bridge provides East and West access by foot or automobile in nine majestic cement arches made from native gravel. When it was built, the bridge set a record as the highest cement bridge in the world. Colorado Street Bridge was once part of Route 66 and now runs alongside The 134 as part of Colorado Boulevard.

Before the bridge, and before Pasadena existed, indigenous people lived and died all along the Arroyo Seco banks. Just a few miles north, the river is dammed at Devil’s Gate. It is called Devil’s Gate because of the sinister rock outcroppings that strike an uncanny similarity to other depictions of Satan. To the Gabrielinos, the land and water held important significance in their mythology.

Devil’s Gate before 1920 courtesy of Magi Media at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3., via Wikimedia Commons

The babbling of the Arroyo against the canyon wall created an effect that sounded a whole lot like laughter. The…

--

--

Heather Monroe

Welcome readers! Heather Monroe is a genealogist and writer who resides in California with her partner and their nine children. •True Crime• History• Memoir•