How To Say Good-Bye To An Iconic Piece Of City History

Demolition of L.A.’s 6th street bridge just began, but residents have been saying bye for months. Here’s how you send off a bridge in style.

Los Angeles is losing an iconic part of the city: The crumbling 6th Street Viaduct, best known for its many appearances in Hollywood films, is being torn down this year after being deemed structurally unsafe. In its place will rise the $428 million bridge Ribbon of Light Bridge, by architect Michael Maltzan, which features a similar, albeit newer, sleeker, design compared with the original.


Though construction on the bridge began this past weekend, the 83-year-old bridge’s days have been numbered for years–and Angelenos, in their own way, have been saying their farewells for a while. From organized wakes to impromptu celebrations to video montages, the city of L.A. has been intent on giving the ailing bridge a proper send-off.

Herewithin, the five stages of L.A.’s grief over the loss of the 6th Street viaduct. Consider it a field guide to saying good-bye to a piece of city history in style.

The Wake
In September, the nonprofit creative art center Art Share L.A., located near the bridge in Arts District, staged an exhibit called “Ode to the Bridge.” It featured 78 artworks by local artists who were asked to submit pieces that “honor this historic and beloved landmark that has graced our skyline for decades.”

The Farewell Festival
A month later, in October, hundreds of Angelenos gathered at the bridge for a another party, this one celebrating the soon-to-be-demolished iconic bridge and ushering in the new one. The 6th Street Viaduct connects the swanky downtown Arts District to Boyle Heights, a historically Latino neighborhood that’s rapidly gentrifying, a trend that will no doubt continue after the new bridge goes up. The festival was an attempt to bring the two communities together. Hundreds of people from both sides of the bridge gathered for a raucous celebration in the center, “snacking on $4 coffee cake and $1 tacos,” according to the L.A. Times.

The “Last Cruise”
The night before the bridge closed for good on January 27, scores of people appeared to give it an impromptu funeral procession. Angelenos arrived in classic cars, low-riders, motorcycles, bikes, and on foot for one last “cruise,” a tradition practiced by the city’s low-rider clubs.

The Video Montage
Even if you’ve never been to L.A., you’ve almost definitely seen the 6th Street Bridge on the silver screen. From Grease, Terminator 2, and Drive to Lost and The Amazing Race, the bridge has been a character in film and TV for decades. Many working in the film industry remember it fondly as the setting for lots of long shoots. One of them, film editor Vashi Nedomansky, created a super-cut in January of his favorite movies filmed on the bridge, which has since been shared widely online.


The Funeral March
Technically this one is more about the 101 freeway closing for the bridge’s demolition than the bridge itself, but it’s hard not to turn L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s sultry “Slow Jam 101” into a funeral march of sorts. The hilarious and bizarre cautionary ballad is the sort of send-off only L.A. would would be able to pull off.


About the author

Meg Miller is an associate editor at Co.Design covering art, technology, and design.