ATWATER VILLAGE—An iconic 30-foot by 40-foot mural on the Los Angeles River, depicting a red trolley car, was recently demolished to make way for a new pedestrian and cycling bridge, despite previous plans to keep the mural intact.
The mural was commissioned in 2005 by community activist group, Friends of Atwater Village (FAV), to attract residents to the river and preserve the cultural significance of the all-but forgotten “Red Car” trolley system that once connected Los Angeles neighborhoods.
The bridge, which broke ground in April, will be built on the previously abandoned piers where a rail bridge once carried the Red Car trolley line across the river. The concrete piers have stood unused in the waterway since the rail line stopped operating in the 1950s, and the mural was painted on the side of one of the piers.
According to officials from FAV and the city’s Board of Public Works, planners had initially hoped to preserve and relocate the landmark mural, but were unable to do so due to logistical challenges.
“We would have loved to preserve [the mural],” said FAV boardmember Netty Carr. “Although it’s sad to lose it, sometimes you have to lose something to get something great for the neighborhood.” Read More »
For those who are less familiar with the intricacies of LA’s cultural aesthetic, public wall murals are a THING here. Like palm trees, blue skies and urine soaked sidewalks embedded with star-shaped placards.
Another THING in LA is the outspoken cycling community that fights for equal access to roadways alongside cars.
A soon-to-be cycling and pedestrian bridge is currently under construction on the forgotten pylons of a former rail bridge across the LA River between Silver Lake and Atwater Village.
The pylons are among the last and few reminders of the once proud and mighty LA transit system of the middle 1900s which included the Red Car Trolley system.
Community leaders said building a bridge on the pylons is a good idea.
A downside… A mural depicting one of the iconic Red Car trolleys with wildlife painted in a river scene below had to be demolished. But community activists who commissioned the mural in 2005 say they’re cool with it.
The following is an excerpt from an article Carl wrote about the mural and the bridge project which you can read in-full by clicking the link at the top of this post. Check out pictures of the old mural here. Checkout the artist Rafael Escamilla here.