The Gentrification Game: 6th Street Viaduct Bridge Replacement Project

What once was a deserted industrial district -- primarily inhabited by textile manufacturers, cold storage companies, artists in need of cheap studio space, and wandering vagrants -- is today the trendy Downtown Los Angeles "Arts District". The shift from lawless artist's playground to corporate developer's wet-dream has taken place in fits and starts over the past twenty plus years. The once eclectic (albeit unsafe) neighborhood has been and continues to be a controversial testing ground for experiments in gentrification. 

Just this month the City of Los Angeles broke ground on a three-year, $400 million project to replace the 6th Street Viaduct Bridge -- which happens to connect the aforementioned "Arts District" to the adjacent Boyle Heights neighborhood. Public Works officials say the project is necessary because of defective concrete used during the construction of the bridge in 1932. Due to a high alkali content the concrete erodes and cracks easily -- making it a severe earthquake hazard -- and too expensive to retrofit and maintain.

The steel arches that stretch the central portion of the bridge have been made familiar by films and television shows that span several decades - including Grease, Terminator 2, aaaand let’s not forget Kayne’s “Jesus Walks” music video. The LA film industry will surely mourn the loss of this iconic shooting location. However, east coast trust funders - I mean transplants - taking up residence at the recently finished One Santa Fe Lofts down the street will easily forget it ever existed.

Earlier this week I walked the length of the nearly mile long structure to say my goodbyes and  take some pictures. I plan on documenting the bridge replacement project each month until the new design is finished. Check back for updates.