The L.A. River is a virtual timeline of the history of Los Angeles but the road leading back in time, doesn’t run along its banks but in the opposite direction of how the city grew and expanded, until it reached the epitome of backyards, the sandy coast along the Pacific Ocean. Most people and cities don’t get a second chance, a true do over, which isn’t the same as going back to the future, because a true do over is the opportunity to go back and retrace the steps over which one stumbled, to avoid getting tripped up again, or when reaching a fork in the road, to choose the better way to go.
L.A. is back on track with a rapid transit system that it already had tried but that ended abruptly, even though it seemed to have been a boon for everyone. The city also has re-embraced its original metropolis as DTLA, where there was and always should be a more effortless co-existence between pedestrians and vehicles, that isn't made to seem like brain surgery.
These bridges must be remembered and revisited, not just because each one of is an architectural gem of its own or a link in a chain of many jewels, nicknamed "million dollar bridges," they were built on borrowed money for the purpose of beautifying this city, in order to welcome visitors from the U.S. and abroad, and invite them to stay for good.
These plates feature just 4 of 10 historic L.A River Bridges, that were built in the 1920's and 30's, when indicators were we had been making strides in the right direction, even as the Great Depression had Los Angeles and the rest of the country in a choke hold...the most in demand architect was an African American named Paul Williams and "America's Sweetheart," Mary Pickford, wasn't just a pretty face, she also had clout as co-Founder and boss at United Artists.
These bridges are part of the infrastructure and solid foundation from which we moved away but where we also seem to be headed back, a do over to be the best Angelenos, we were becoming and need to be...divided in zip code, perhaps, but united in purpose and in connection to a city and the river that helped create it... a place in which we all can thrive, separately and together, as we strive to do better, as we must always do, no matter what.
The L.A. River Bridges Plates is the first of what will be a continuing series of plates that commemorate some the most celebrated bridges and rivers in the United States. American rivers may vary in size and stature but each has a current that runs like a pulse. When cared for, rivers sustain life, generate growth and provide hope for the future. The bridges that cross over them link the past to the present and join people of all kinds on a road headed forward. We may embark from separate paths and different walks of life but we bridge our differences as we roll along and converge as fellow travelers in one great American journey.
The River Bridges Plates Project supports organizations that have a meaningful impact on inhabitants who live in the region where the specific set of river bridges are located.
DANIEL STEIN: Daniel Stein's photographs have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in galleries and cultural centers including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Judith Kaufman Gallery in North Hollywood, California, Doma Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, and PhotoBistro.com. He was recently selected from over 500 applicants to the juried portfolio review at Photo Alliance in San Francisco, California. His images have been published in Esquire and Scientific American.
The photographs of Seventh Street Bridge, Fourth Street Bridge and Cesar Chavez Avenue Bridge were taken by Mr. Stein.
RYAN KELLY: Ryan Kelly is an artist, designer, and animator based in the Hudson Valley, NY. His work can be found on the web: Ryan Kelly Tumblr. Ryan lives with his wife, children, and dogs.
THE RIVER BRIDGES PLATES PROJECT IS PRODUCED BY 81ST STREET PRODUCTIONS
See our previous set of porcelain plates that featured bridges of the Hudson River. (click HERE)