The beautiful Coronado Bridge, 2.1 miles in length, linking San Diego to Coronado Island, opened August 3rd, 1969. Why wasn't it designed to cross directly across the span; why does it curve like it does? To allow ships out of the nearby Naval Base to pass under it, there had to 61 meters of clearance under the bridge. The best design solution to achieve the required height was to build in the curve. The first person to cross it after the official opening was Ronald Regan, then governor of the state.
Here's the bridge cloaked in our friendly San Diego fog. Coastal fog is our companion on many mornings but it quickly retreats giving way to sunny skies. Do I sound like the weather lady?
The bridge has inspired artists for decades. Here's a few examples:
|Christopher Rooney 2011|
|Photo by Grant Pecoff|
"The pillars supporting the bridge on the eastern end are painted with huge murals as part of Chicano Park, the largest collection of Chicano art murals in the world. This neighborhood park and mural display were created in response to a community uprising in 1970, which protested the negative effects of the bridge and Interstate 5 on the Barrio Logan community. Local artist Salvador Torres proposed using the bridge and freeway pillars as a giant canvas for Chicano art at a time when urban wall murals were rare in the United States, and he and many other artists created the murals when permission for the park was finally granted in 1973. " Chicano Park is home to the largest collection of outdoor murals in the country.
Finally the sad part of the bridge's history: Like many iconic bridges around the world, Coronado bridge has been the scene of suicides; in fact, it's considered the country's third most "deadly" bridge. The first is the Golden Gate in San Francisco; the second Aurora Bridge in Seattle; and then comes the Coronado. The first suicide on the bridge occurred three years after it opened and the sad event turned out not to be a suicide but a suicide at gunpoint.
The Hutchings case may be the only murder on the Coronado bridge. With the exception of one man in 1992, the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office has identified all 202 people known to have committed suicide there. Each year the number varies: from none in 1985 to 16 in 1980. About 25 percent of the victims are women -- a breakdown that roughly approximates national statistics for suicide. Most people drive on the bridge, but some walk.
"As with other suicides, there's no common thread for bridge-jumping," said Lt. James E. Barker, commanding officer of the San Diego Police Department's emergency negotiations team, which, in its role of diffusing crises, has talked some people out of leaping. "We used to think it was during the holiday season, but during the last few years, we've had zero activity during the holiday. You can't say it's young versus old, successful people versus unsuccessful people, educated people versus uneducated people. It covers the whole spectrum."
I wrote myself into a box here...ending with such a downer I didn't have the heart to send it to Sepia Saturday. Suicide by gunpoint - such a happy family outing!
By way of antidote, here's an anti-suicide piece if there ever was one: