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The Shakespeare Bridge

Shakespearebridge

People who might be tempted to think of L.A. as a not-all-that-literary city just don't know it well enough; literary landmarks are everywhere.

Between Silver Lake and Los Feliz, for example, the useful -- and lovely -- Shakespeare Bridge connects Franklin Avenue to St. George Street. But it's not just a bridge -- it's also Los Angeles' Cultural and Historical Monument No. 126.

Pseudonymous blogger Floyd B. Bariscale (who took the photo above as part of his project profiling all of L.A.'s landmarks, one by one) writes of the Shakespeare Bridge:

Completed in 1926, it stands thirty-feet wide and 230-feet long. It features Gothic arches and, at either end, two pair of what Gebhard and Winter, in "Los Angeles: An Architectural Guide," call “aedicules.”

The "aedicules" are the pretty pointy things; the gothic arches are here and here and here. As for its gothicness, the bridge appeared in the underrated 1991 film "Dead Again," a gothic thriller starring Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson. One (unsubstantiated) rumor also places it in "The Wizard of Oz"; surely it's appeared in other films too.

But this is about its literariness: It's called the Shakespeare Bridge because ... well, that's actually a mystery. It just IS the Shakespeare Bridge,
without any slips of prolixity or crossing the plain highway of talk. (That's from "The Merchant of Venice"; Shakespeare quotes make the Shakespeare Bridge that much more fun.)

Carolyn Kellogg

 
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The transition from the name "Franklin Avenue Bridge" to "the Shakespeare Bridge" is indeed a good mystery. The Library of Congress doesn't offer any answers:

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/h?pp/hh:@field(NUMBER+@band(ca2911))

And the Leslie Anne Wiggins article points to the commonly held idea that it was the locals who named the bridge. This may be why one cannot trace the exact date of origin.

I'm likewise fond of the sleek, helic James Joyce Bridge in Dublin.


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