Aurora Bridge

We didn’t discover the Aurora Bridge.  But we did walk across it the evening before WSDOT began building a new fence.

The old fence was relatively short, which made for a somewhat precarious-feeling walk from Fremont to Queen Anne.

Aurora bridge pedestrian walkway, north side

Yikes, we said.

Aurora bridge guard rail

But as it turns out, short fences and a 180-foot fall also make the Aurora Bridge popular with people looking to commit suicide.  According to Wikipedia, there have been over 230 successful suicides from the bridge, the first being a distraught shoe salesman in January of 1932.  A harbinger of things to come, because at the time the bridge was still under construction.

Walking across the bridge, the suicide theme is disturbingly prevalent.

A somber warning

Suicidal in Seattle

While it’s difficult to evaluate its effectiveness, the suicide hotline sign had a detached bureaucratic smell about it that left us wondering whether a better caption might have been something along the lines of Are you fucking kidding me?

And of course, nothing says don’t jump like the Space Needle.  Especially when it brings its friends, some nondescript Seattle high-rises.

But then something caught our eye.

Ninth life

Dried flowers, duct-taped to a light pole.  A heart.  Thank you for being.

A simple lament, taken together.  Ambiguous, even;  were they even the work of the same author?  Either way, we thought about the ones left behind, and then the scene punched us in the gut.

We didn’t jump.

We decided that while the new eight-foot fence, funded at $1.4M by Governor Gregoire, would ruin a magnificent view, it was probably a good idea.

And a magnificent view it was.  Of Lake Union and its houseboats, of downtown Seattle and its skyscrapers, of Gasworks Park and its… gas works.  All splashed with warm sunlight from a lengthy golden hour.

Seattle across Lake Union

Even Mount Rainier made an appearance, hiding nonchalantly in the bushes above the city.

Seattle across Lake Union

Thanks to its height, the Aurora Bridge is one of the few bridges in Seattle that wasn’t inexplicably designed to interfere with passing ships, and therefore require a drawbridge. Which makes it a great place to watch lesser bridge, such as the Fremont bridge, decide whether to infuriate ships or cars, or perhaps both at the same time.

Fremont bridge opening

It’s also a great place to wonder whether Adobe Lightroom would be a better program if it provided high dynamic range functionality out of the box, thus saving thousands of skies from being blown out.  Like this one.

Rust and Adobe

The Aurora Bridge itself is beginning to show its age.  While sturdy enough to merit a passing 55.2% grade from the FHA’s national bridge inventory, it was declared functionally obsolete and of better than minimum adequacy to tolerate being left in place as is.

In years to come, I can only hope my wife is able to say the same thing about me.

In any case, this means that in bridge years, the Aurora Bridge is now, officially, middle-aged.  And it shows.

Rust never sleeps

Which raises the question of why Roman bridges last two millennia, but ours get old after eighty years.  Maybe we need to take better care of our infrastructure.

Playing his last hand

So we walked the span of the bridge and then back, crossing underneath Aurora Ave and playing a game of Tetris along the way.

The mindless pattern

As we left the bridge, we were gifted with a wonderful summer sunset over the ship canal.  It’s possible that we were the last to enjoy this sight without a view obstructed by fencing.

At least, I hope we were.

Ship canal sunset

The complete Flickr set.

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