Throwback Thursday | The Other Bridge

The bridge was dedicated to the pioneers

Pasadena Museum of History | Pioneer Bridge under construction with the iconic Colorado Street Bridge in the background (1952)

In a couple of weeks on July 18th, the historic Colorado Street Bridge will close to automobiles for its annual bridge party. In perfect view is the Pioneer Bridge, far more massive in construction, it looms over the Arroyo Seco in the direction of the Rose Bowl.

Most people are familiar with the Colorado Street Bridge, often driving across it with a smile. But few motorists even notice “the other bridge” that bows away from it with a massive highway swath three times its width.

Like in The Beatles’ song When I’m Sixty-Four, the Pioneer Bridge turned 64 this year with a similar questioning sentiment. Does anybody care?

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PHOTO: Pasadena Museum of History | | Pioneer Bridge under construction (Colorado Street Bridge on the left) August 29, 1952
PHOTO: Pasadena Museum of History | | Pioneer Bridge under construction (Colorado Street Bridge on the right) August 29, 1952

Sixty-four years ago on October 8, 1953, the temperature was unusually warm at 100 degrees during the bridge dedication ceremonies. That did not dull the excitement of those who attended.

The bridge was dedicated to the pioneers, “especially the twenty-seven who founded this city near this spot on January 27, 1874.”

PHOTO: Pasadena Museum of History | | Dedication of Pioneer Bridge on October 8, 1953

The Beatles song ends with a playful muse: “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?” Sadly, perhaps, most people drive over this magnificent bridge without even giving it a thought.



Rick Thomas
Author Rick Thomas is the former museum curator and vice-chair of education for the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation. He served on the South Pasadena Natural Resources Commission, helping to maintain a strict policy protecting the city’s great old-growth trees. Using touchstone photographs from his own collection—one of the San Gabriel Valley’s largest accumulations of historical images and artifacts—as well as national, state, and local historical archives, Thomas provides a window to his city’s past and an understanding of why its preservation is so important.