It’s no secret that San Diego is a historically significant place, but these architectural wonders often go unnoticed by native passerby. Our coastal city is rife with little oddities, from suspension bridges to Historical Monuments and even one of the tallest auto bridges in Southern California. Check out our list of must-see bridges in San Diego here and get out those maps!
Goat Canyon Trestle Bridge
If trains and hiking are your thing, you’ll definitely want to check out the Goat Canyon Trestle Bridge along the Carrizo Gorge Track in Anza Borrego. It was built in 1932 after an earthquake collapsed one of the tunnels in the San Diego and Arizona Railway. At 200 feet tall and 750 feet long, it’s actually the longest, tallest curved wooden trestle ever built in the US. The difficulty of the mountainous terrain and the searing desert temperatures warranted the name “The Impossible Railroad,” but it was finally completed on November 15, 1919 – with John D. Spreckels pounding in the last stake himself. To explore the old tracks and bridge, park near Mortero Palms and take the trail that leads you up and over the Jacumba Mountains. You’ll eventually drop down into Goat Canyon after about three miles. The whole trail is about 6 miles, so only attempt if you’re a seasoned hiker and up for a day hike; once you get there, however, the view is incredible and the bridge is definitely walkable.
Spruce Street Suspension Bridge
One of the most unique bridges in San Diego, this one spans Kate Sessions Canyon in Bankers Hill from Front Street to Brant Street. Designed by one-time San Diego mayor Edwin M. Capps, this little gem affectionately known as the “wiggly bridge” has been up and running since 1912. It crosses 70 feet above the Canyon and stretches for 375 feet by steel suspension cables anchored to massive concrete piers hidden beneath the soil at both ends. The lightness and flexibility of the bridge allows it to sway in response to the wind and those few daring walkers. Head over to Front Street in Bankers Hill to check this one out!
Georgia Street Bridge
The Georgia Street Bridge is one of the few bridges in San Diego County listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built over University Avenue between Florida Street and Park Boulevard in 1914 to replace a redwood truss bridge that previously crossed the Georgia Street ridge, which was cut to allow for a new streetcar system which linked North Park to the rest of San Diego. The bridge is made from steel-reinforced concrete, but sadly, the concrete is slowly starting to crumble off and the bridge was actually labeled “structurally deficient” in 2010 by Caltrans after a series of seismic tests on a number of bridges throughout San Diego County. Unfortunately, the iconic bridge now has some pretty significant maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement in its future.
Nello Irwin Greer Memorial Bridge
More commonly known as the Pine Valley Creek Bridge, those who have driven across this beauty on Interstate 8 know that its height is nothing to scoff at: rising 450 feet above the valley floor and at 1,700 feet long, this beautiful bridge was an architectural masterpiece back when it was built in 1974. Though initially called the Pine Valley Creek Bridge, it was later renamed in honor of the project engineer, Nello Irwin Greer, who was in charge of designing that section of I-8 in an undertaking known as the “Pine Valley Project.” Greer’s redesigning of the area re-routed the freeway to the south, bypassing and preserving the quaint and native plant beauty of I-8’s mountain community. Hats off to Greer for saving San Diego millions of dollars and creating a timeless icon.
Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge
The Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge, the newest one on the list, spans Harbor Drive at Park Boulevard adjacent to Petco Park and the Gaslamp Quarter. At 550 feet long, it’s one of the longest self-anchored pedestrian bridges in the world and the longest in San Diego County! It was completed in March 2011, and is actually suspended from a single 131-foot tall pylon set into the ground at a 60 degree angle. Made completely from stainless steel, it features a rather unorthodox design – with a curved concrete deck that is suspended only by a single pair of suspension cables. The clear (though abstract) nautical theme is a nod to San Diego’s marine history.
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