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Urban Exploration: Inside The 7th Street Bridge

5:26 am in Biking in LA, History, LA by Will Campbell

One of the oldest spans across the Los Angeles River, the 7th Street Bridge dates back to 1910 when the at-grade version included two-sets of trolley tracks. It quickly became one of the most congested ways across the river and by the late 1920s it was decided that rather than demolish the entire structure, a second level would be built on top giving it a double-decker appearance and allowing traffic to move freely without being impeded by any freight trains traveling  through.

Ever since I first noticed that open but inaccessible lower level of the 7th Street Bridge about eight years ago, I’ve wondered what it’s like inside, and my curiosity only increased a couple years ago when LA River advocate Joe Linton found a way in and wrote about it on his blog LA Creek Freak. It again was piqued a few months ago when the news hit that there are plans in the very early stages to convert the space to an open-air market.

During a visit paid to the bridge last summer while on one of my riverbed rides, I couldn’t figure out how Linton got up there, and I had pretty much reconciled that the space was to remain off limits to me — until a couple weeks ago, when an acquaintance of Linton’s contacted me out of the blue and said she knew how he got in and would I be game to try. Of course I would, I said.

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Timelapse: Bridging The Great LA River Bikeway Divide

10:28 am in Biking in LA, environment by Will Campbell

There’s about eight miles of Los Angeles River separating its bikeways in Elysian Valley and the city of Maywood. Like most normal people you probably haven’t troubled yourself wondering if that entire stretch of riverbed between those two points is navigable by bike. But if you’re like me and my friend Andrew it was time yesterday to see if we could connect those two dots. We did.

A selection of stills from the trek are viewable here on Flickr, most notable among them is the Bicycle Monument installed below the Olympic Boulevard Bridge, the in-water river chair (full functionality proven by Andrew) south of the 10 Freeway overpass, and best of all: the fellow south of the Washington Boulevard Bridge sitting on a utility cable spool reading a newspaper who looked at us as funny as we looked at him. A map of the entire 22-mile-route we rode is here.

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Taking It To The (East) Bank

9:15 am in Biking in LA by Will Campbell

The Real East Side: 1967 Chevy Chevelle SS. Artist: "Adam."

In my 475 years  of existence in this city, I have been visiting the Los Angeles River for 323 of them. But ALWAYS the west bank south of Fletcher Avenue. Never the much more rugged and less-accessible east bank. Until yesterday, when stuck inside my head I prescribed a self-medicating  bike ride instead.

Boy did it coat, soothe and relieve.

Pedaling from Silver Lake to Atwater Village, I accessed the far side via Sunnynook Drive and then headed south, finding the river partially sandbagged and diverted at Fletcher for what looks to be stabilization/reinforcement work that’s being done to the underside of its bridge.

Scooting under the span I then had the three-mile length to Elysian Valley enfuckingtirely to myself, and I felt Lewis & Clarksian in discovering some seriously amazing scenery that strengthened the bond I have with our misbegotten waterway.

Anywhat, it was just what I needed to clear my cranium. And you know if it’s me on a bike there will be handlebarcam timelapsification of the entire trip for your stop-motion viewing pleasure:

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