Crossing the cool Spruce Street Suspension Bridge.

Couple crosses Kate Sessions Canyon on a cool 375 foot long suspension bridge!
Couple crosses Kate Sessions Canyon on a very long suspension bridge!

If you love cool bridges, the Bankers Hill neighborhood just north of downtown San Diego is the place to go!

I blogged about the Quince Street Trestle and First Avenue Bridge a while back. But an even more awesome bridge (in my opinion) can be found on Spruce Street!

The classic Spruce Street Suspension Bridge is located just west of First Avenue and crosses narrow Kate Sessions Canyon. It’s an amazing, breathtaking 375 feet long! Steel cables support a gently swaying passage through and above treetops, and a walk along its length feels like a small, romantic adventure. The bridge was designed by Edwin Capps, the city engineer who was also responsible for plans to dredge San Diego Bay, and who would go on to be elected mayor. (It was Capps who hired the rainmaker Charley Hatfield, the central character in one of San Diego’s most legendary tales! Perhaps I’ll blog about it one day…)

Built in 1912, the purpose of the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge was to provide easy access for those who lived to the west to trolley lines on Fourth and Fifth Avenue.

The Spruce Street steel cable suspension footbridge, engineered by Edwin Capps, was erected in 1912.
The Spruce Street steel cable suspension footbridge, engineered by Edwin Capps, was erected in 1912.
Wouldn't you like to walk out on this bridge.
Wouldn’t you like to walk out on this bridge?
The swaying suspension bridge is a unique, historic structure just north of downtown San Diego.
The swaying suspension bridge is a unique, historic structure just north of downtown San Diego.
Lots of people love this hidden bridge. You feel like you're crossing through a wilderness of treetops!
Lots of people love this hidden bridge. You feel like you’re crossing through a wilderness of treetops!
Bicyclists enjoy a dirt trail 70 feet below.
Bicyclists enjoy a dirt trail 70 feet below.
Boy sits thoughtfully on the Spruce Street suspension bridge in Bankers Hill.
Boy sits thoughtfully on the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge in Bankers Hill.

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Vital Parts discovered under dark freeway bridge.

A human heart is juxtaposed with San Diego's old Presidio in some very unique ceramic artwork.
A human heart hovers above the Serra Museum atop nearby Presidio Hill in this extremely unique ceramic artwork.

There’s some fascinating public art in Mission Valley that few people see. It’s located in the deep shadows beneath Interstate 8 where the freeway passes over Hotel Circle. Eyes are adjusting to darkness as motorists, turning a corner, quickly pass five ceramic panels high on drab concrete pillars. The one sidewalk is located on the opposite side of the street. To really appreciate the artwork, you have to cross traffic dangerously and stand in a narrow band of dirt right up close.

Today I walked to work past the darkly obscured art and decided to finally get a closer look.

Vital Parts, installed in 1999, was created by local San Diego artist Joanne Hayakawa. The pieces seem to be stratified, crumbling and sculpted by time and memory. They seem to blend with the dirt beneath the bare bridge.

The very dark Interstate 8 underpass at Hotel Circle features seldom appreciated public art.
The very dark Interstate 8 underpass at Hotel Circle features seldom appreciated public art.
Vital Parts, by artist Joanne Hayakawa, was installed on five pillars of a Mission Valley freeway bridge in 1999.
Vital Parts, by artist Joanne Hayakawa, was installed on five pillars of a Mission Valley freeway bridge in 1999.
Mysterious fossil-like hand hovers above San Diego River and what I believe are Native American structures.
Mysterious fossil-like hand hovers above nearby San Diego River and what I believe are Native American structures.
Human brain, made golden by underpass light, crowns image of Mission San Diego de Alcalá and the ever-present river.
Human brain, made golden by underpass light, crowns image of old Mission San Diego and the ever-present blue river.
Spine rises over what I believe is Qualcomm Stadium. This earthy art is unusual and evocative.
Spine rises over what I believe is modern Qualcomm Stadium. This earthy art is very unusual and evocative.
Chin and silent mouth seem like a clay mask from the past over the eternally flowing river.
Chin and silent mouth seem like a timeless clay mask beside the eternally flowing river.

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Walk under cool bridges on Maple Canyon Trail.

View of the Quince Street Trestle from a spot on Fourth Avenue.
View of the Quince Street Trestle from a spot on Fourth Avenue.

Many nature hikes can be enjoyed in Balboa Park. But there’s another beautiful, quiet hike through date palms and eucalyptus trees and bright spring flowers that anyone can enjoy just a few blocks north of downtown San Diego.

The Maple Canyon Trail stretches from a trailhead near Quince Street and Third Avenue on Bankers Hill to a second trailhead at Maple Street and Dove Street in Middletown. It often seems that the only people who use the trail are dog walkers and joggers who live nearby. Those who haven’t hiked this easy trail are missing out on a unique experience. The Maple Canyon Trail passes under two cool historic bridges!

The Quince Street Trestle is a visually interesting wooden footbridge that was built in 1905. Back then streetcars ran up Fourth Avenue, and the trestle allowed pedestrians to cross the steep canyon from the west. A quarter century ago the bridge, weakened by termites and rot, was closed and almost demolished. Local residents took up the cause of saving the bridge, which was finally declared a historic site.

The Maple Canyon Trail also passes beneath the impressive First Avenue Bridge. The arched steel bridge was built in 1931 and was originally known as the Peoples Bridge. Its astonishing height above the trail is a reminder of San Diego’s unique geology. Southern California’s coastal region is crisscrossed in many places by deep, narrow canyons, which often serve as undeveloped habitat for native species of plant and animal life.

Small cabinet at end of footbridge contains books that people can freely borrow!
Small cabinet at end of footbridge contains books that people can freely borrow!
Walking across the very cool historic trestle on Bankers Hill.
Walking across the very cool historic trestle on Bankers Hill.
Looking down from the trestle at dogs and walker passing through the canyon below.
Looking down from trestle at dogs and walker passing through the canyon below.
This super cool condo is located near the Third Avenue trailhead.
This super cool condo is located near the Third Avenue trailhead.
Maple Canyon Open Space sign near trailhead on Bankers Hill.
Maple Canyon Open Space sign near trailhead on Bankers Hill.
Looking up at the wooden footbridge from the quiet footpath on a sunny day.
Looking up at the wooden footbridge from the quiet footpath on a sunny day.
Wooden beams compose the high trestle.
Wood beams compose the high trestle.
Grass and spring flowers line the Maple Canyon Trail.
Grass and spring flowers line the Maple Canyon Trail.
Some interesting houses can be seen up on the hillsides.
Some interesting houses can be seen up on the hillsides.
Here comes the First Avenue Bridge beyond a eucalyptus tree.
Here comes the First Avenue Bridge beyond a eucalyptus tree.
This elegant old steel bridge has very limited traffic.
This elegant old steel bridge has very limited motor traffic.

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Cool peek at Monster Jam’s Party in the Pits.

People gaze down at Monster Jam's Party in the Pits in the Petco stadium parking lot.
People gaze at Monster Jam’s Party in the Pits in the Petco stadium parking lot.

I was heading back home today after walking for a couple hours along San Diego Bay. Crossing the bridge over Harbor Drive, I suddenly heard some sort of loud event over by Petco Park. I turned my head, and a big crowd of people came into view…

Crossing over Harbor Drive bridge, I heard and spied something big going on!
Crossing over Harbor Drive bridge, I heard and spied something big going on!
Look at all the monster truck enthusiasts checking out cool stuff.
Look at all the monster truck enthusiasts checking out cool stuff.
Guys on bikes and motorcycles were performing huge jumps for the crowd.
Guys on bikes and motorcycles perform huge jumps for crowd.

After descending from the bridge, I walked around the monster truck event and took a few pics over the fence!

I don't know the name of this monster truck, but it was definitely large!
I don’t know the name of this monster truck, but it was definitely large!
Mechanic guy near a couple of gigantic spare tires.
Mechanic guy near a couple of gigantic spare tires.
I guess this is a driver. He was signing autographs for lots of fans.
I guess this is a driver. He was signing autographs for lots of fans.
A display I could barely glimpse over the surrounding fence.
A display I could barely glimpse over the surrounding fence.
A couple of vendors head from Petco Park to the Monster Jam Party in the Pits.
A couple of vendors head from Petco Park to the Monster Jam Party in the Pits.

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Tiny, watchful eyes on a very lonely bridge.

Small, vacant eyes stare up from a seldom used bridge in downtown San Diego.
Small, vacant eyes stare up from a seldom used bridge in downtown San Diego.

A pedestrian bridge in downtown San Diego spans Interstate 5. It’s almost never used. From the extreme end of a large, mostly vacant parking lot below the Veteran’s Museum, it arches high over the wide, busy freeway and descends to a securely gated parking lot next to San Diego City College’s sports fields.  It leads mostly nowhere.

I’ve lived about a mile away for over a decade, but I’ve never set foot on the bridge–until this afternoon. Walking up Park Boulevard, I’ve often gazed at the distant bridge and wondered if it was open. Never once have I seen a soul on it.

I suppose people must visit this place at times, because the bridge is absolutely covered with both new and old graffiti. It’s a singularly lonely place, enclosed in fencing, suspended above unseen drivers flashing by in anonymous cars below.

Here are some random photographs.  Who applied these small artistic faces?  The eyes never blink.

This pedestrian bridge spans Interstate 5, connecting two unrelated parking lots.
This pedestrian bridge spans Interstate 5, connecting two unrelated parking lots.
Two strange eyes seem to sprout from the concrete. Going nowhere fast.
Two strange eyes seem to sprout from the concrete. Going nowhere fast.
Stenciled images of bearded face. Stay fresh.
Stenciled images of bearded face. Stay fresh.
Two contented smiles inside lettering of boldly spray painted graffiti underfoot.
Two contented smiles inside lettering of boldly spray painted graffiti underfoot.
Shy face and downcast eyes. Welcome home.
Shy face and downcast eyes. Welcome home.
Small grinning face in some faded blue words.
Small grinning face in some faded blue words.
These stenciled faces seem to be slowly disappearing as time passes.
These stenciled faces seem to be slowly disappearing as time passes.
A whole crowd of colorful eyes watch in every direction.
A whole crowd of colorful eyes watch in every direction.
Spray painted cartoon looks happy and excited as can be.
Spray painted cartoon looks happy and excited as can be.
Another smiling face in graffiti on the lonely bridge.
Another smiling face in graffiti on the lonely bridge.
A fierce cartoon cat or devilish creature of some kind.
A fierce cartoon cat or devilish creature of some kind.
Above a Facebreaker decal is an old Gasface sticker.
Above a Facebreaker decal is an old Gasface sticker.
Looking down at the freeway where it begins its S-curve through downtown.
Looking down at the freeway where it begins its S-curve through downtown.
Enigmatic face is unable to speak to the few who pass by.
Enigmatic face is unable to speak to the few who pass by.
Another simple, childish smile. Even where it's bleak, there is always hope.
Another simple, childish smile. Even where it’s bleak, there is always hope.

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Street art rough sketches on a downtown bridge.

Sketch of female face and buildings on Sixth Avenue bridge above Interstate 5.
Sketch of female face and buildings, on Sixth Avenue bridge above Interstate 5.

Just before sundown yesterday I spotted these small unfinished works of art while I walked over the Sixth Avenue bridge that spans Interstate 5. They were down near the ground right next to the sidewalk, beneath the chain link fence overlooking the freeway.

I wonder who sketched these small scenes. Was it an art student? Are these works in progress? Are they the doodles of some inspired passerby, or a creative homeless person?

Had it not been for my blog and my endless quest for new material, I probably wouldn’t have noticed these faint drawings.

Mysterious unfinished street art of woman holding hamburger.
Mysterious unfinished street art of woman holding hamburger.
Stylish figure on couch with vase seems the work of a practiced artist.
Stylish figure on couch with vase seems the work of a practiced artist.
A miniature horse runs along a sidewalk in downtown San Diego.
A miniature horse runs along a sidewalk in downtown San Diego.

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Homeless and graffiti under Highway 163.

Homeless and graffiti beneath Highway 163 in Mission Valley.
Homeless and graffiti beneath Highway 163 in Mission Valley.

These two pics aren’t very cool.  But they are important.  They show another world that many often don’t see.

I took these photos where Highway 163 crosses over Camino de la Reina in Mission Valley.  I climbed up a hill of dirt under the overpass and emerged between the opposing lanes of traffic.

Numerous homeless people live along the San Diego River in Mission Valley.  Some of them hunker down in shelter provided by this makeshift concrete roof.

Another world in the shadows beneath lanes of busy traffic.
Another world in the shadows beneath lanes of busy traffic.

UPDATE!

I got the following three pics late in the summer. I didn’t see anyone, but obviously numerous people pass through.

Looking under Highway 163 where the homeless often pass or gather.
Looking under Highway 163 where the homeless often pass or gather.
This is where Highway 163 passes over the San Diego River.
This is where Highway 163 crosses over the San Diego River.
Weeds and graffiti beneath the concrete.
Weeds and graffiti beneath the concrete.