Updates: Crowd comes to bid South Park Bridge farewell

June 30, 2010 at 6:23 pm | In South Park, West Seattle news | 13 Comments

(Below are our updates as the South Park Bridge closure unfolded. Processing video/photos now for separate stories later)

ORIGINAL 6:23 PM REPORT: We’re on the South Park Bridge – which will be an impossible feat in less than an hour – and it’s quite the scene, on and around the bridge.

People are streaming up and down the bridge on its sidewalks – City Councilmember Sally Clark just walked by our spot alongside the bridge-tender tower:

(Photo by Christopher Boffoli)
Across the way, there are decorations:

Right alongside the walkers, a just-as-steady stream of vehicles – some of which would pass this way anyway, some of which are clearly cruising for show (we’ve seen a few classic hot rods). Down on the brick path that a new bridge will – if all goes well – someday follow, there’s a group of tents. And in the street close to the south end of the bridge, there’s even a group of chairs, awaiting an audience for the bridge’s final “opening,” which also will be its closure. Every TV station in town is here too, of course, though they are vastly outnumbered by dozens, if not hundreds, of others with cameras large and small. Duwamish Tribe drummers are walking by, preparing for a ceremonial crossing. (Here’s Christopher Boffoli‘s photo of Duwamish Tribe chair Cecile Hansen with South Park resident Bill Owens, an organizer of tonight’s wake:)

Going the other way, toward the South Park end, Council President Richard Conlin, pushing his bicycle.

More to come; the crowd up here on the bridge continues to grow. Also here: newly nominated-to-be-permanent SPD Chief John Diaz.

6:47 PM: We’re going offline for a bit to cover these final minutes. The hooting and hollering is starting to build. Up here atop the bridge, it’s shoulder-to-shoulder, and then some.

7:33 PM: People are still thronging the bridge – some have pried off the round yellow lane markers – the final vehicles to cross, in both directions, were classic buses, both long gone, but we’re not sure yet how all the people will be cleared. See our Twitter feed for tons of photos, till the bridge is officially closed. Wait – we can hear some official-sounding calls to clear the bridge – looks like the moment is nigh.

8:04 PM: RIP South Park Bridge – after a spate of crowd resistance – the last few hundred on the bridge refused orders to move all the way down to the street, and held steady about 10 yards behind the bridge gates. So at right around 8 o’clock straight up, the sirens sounded one last time, and the bridge, decorated with pink tulle, opened one last time.

Some are still milling, and a Transit Police car is here just in case (it moved in to help convince the crowd to at least move behind the gates). After the bridge leaves finished rising, the crowd began to sing “Amazing Grace,” followed by a round of “South Park Bridge is falling down” (to the tune of London Bridge). More later. P.S. The Feedback Lounge (WSB sponsor) T-shirts were seen in force.

8:15 PM: Your editor here is the last person atop the bridge. Time to leave. Sounds of the celebration/wake are rising from the restaurants below.

9:40 PM: Until we move this into a separate story – video of the bridge’s final moments, followed by toasts, and a hymn:

13 Comments

  1. C’mon people… It’s a damn bridge. get over the fact its shutting down and GO AROUND. QUIT YOUR CRYING.

    Comment by velo_nut — 9:59 pm June 30, 2010 #

  2. There wasn’t a whole lot of crying, actually.

    Comment by WSB — 10:19 pm June 30, 2010 #

  3. It’s so much easier to go around if you have a car(or if there was more than 1 bus route)… it’s so much easier to say go around if your lively hood doesn’t depend on the daily traffic, it’s so much easier when when we all act with a little bit of compassion.

    Comment by lashanna — 10:52 pm June 30, 2010 #

  4. Velo nut. It isn’t a case of just “GO AROUND.” This closure renders it near impossible for many to get to work easily. It further marginalizes people that are already marginalized.
    It also was used by others that commute by bike or scooter. And pedestrians.

    Comment by meg — 11:08 pm June 30, 2010 #

  5. jeez, velo_nut, if you don’t care and have such a harsh view of other people’s feelings, why do you even bother to comment? There has been a working bridge here for almost 80 years. We got kind of used to it. That this vital link has just been cut off without a plan to replace it is not just an inconvenience, it is symbolic of how our neglected infrastructure is crumbling before our eyes as our elected governments do nothing. It damages livelihoods and disrupts lives. It affects us all, even you.

    Comment by Scott — 8:53 am July 1, 2010 #

  6. Come on…don’t you think singing “Amazing Grace” is a little much? Jeez.

    Comment by Kayleigh — 11:03 am July 1, 2010 #

  7. No, Kayleigh, I don’t think it was a “little much” to be singing Amazing Grace. Not when you consider that both the Fire Dept and the Police Dept have testified numerous times that the loss of the SP bridge will GREATLY affect their response times to the community of South Park. THEY are worried — shouldn’t we be?

    It’s not a “little much” when you consider not only the thousands of residents but also the hundreds of businesses dependent on that bridge to bring their customers to them. They are facing almost certain failure, debt, loss of livelihood — shouldn’t we be calling on God’s help for these things?

    And it’s most certainly not a “little much” when you realize that this incident is only the latest in a long, long history of neglect and disinterest on the part of the city of Seattle in their poorer, browner neighbors to the south. While Magnolia’s bridge gets all spiffed up, South Park loses their only lifeline to the city that has, essentially, disowned them. It’s called Generational Racism and it’s ugly — why shouldn’t the community come together and sing a hymn in the face of all this?

    Comment by merry — 11:48 am July 1, 2010 #

  8. I used to pass this way 5 days a week, then about 3 days a week, and now I live in Kitsap.
    It’s refreshing to see the City finally doing some of the 20 year back log of pavement marking, patching, and repair in the South Park area. Too bad they don’t maintain infrastructure, as they should, instead of waiting for an entire neighborhood to be isolated, before doing anything.
    I noticed they also have plenty of bike route signs and pavement markings for that select group, as well. It’s been a long time coming. Too bad there is no longer a destination.
    I hope they use OUR money better on Paul’s Mercer Street.

    Comment by Milo — 12:33 pm July 1, 2010 #

  9. As a pontist [bridge fan] especially fond of those that lift, I’ll cry if I darn well please.
    Especially since so many people are going to be hurt too. I’d say I hope we learn a lesson from this, but I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen.
    I’m sorry I couldn’t make it last night. I hope South Park finds a way to survive.

    Comment by Angiportus — 6:21 pm July 1, 2010 #

  10. What merry said!

    Comment by meg — 9:07 pm July 1, 2010 #

  11. Merry, the melodrama doesn’t help your cause and it just makes you look silly to some of us. Hymns are actually sacred to some people (I know most of Seattle doesn’t really do religion, but some people do.)
    .
    Maybe this will help South Park make some improvements. I don’t even like driving through there, frankly.

    Comment by Kayleigh — 9:34 am July 2, 2010 #

  12. Kayleigh,

    I feel the “melodrama” of a hard working, passionate community- which has devoted countless man-hours making “some improvements” in their neighborhood without much help from the city – acknowledging the bridge’s demise with a hymn often played at funerals helps their cause much more than than your last two sentences at 9:45 am help the cause of organized religion.

    I think the people singing was heartfelt. That’s what should matter.

    Comment by Syd — 7:12 pm July 2, 2010 #

  13. It is certainly worth crying about the fact that the system that we pay to represent us, didn’t.

    Deliver, in this case, an answer that appeases.

    Crying is warranted when people feel betrayed, when promises are made: on the side of a building.

    We, as a community, are less well off for having lost our bridge.

    Perhaps the lack of compassion for the people is pervasive.

    Perhaps it needs to be changed.

    Comment by Mac McElroy — 7:15 pm July 2, 2010 #

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