Hidden San Diego is a series of articles about cool and unique things we don't generally know about San Diego. You would only come across them if you live in the neighborhood, and the old footbridges of Hillcrest and Banker's Hill give these neighborhoods a unique and special character. Learn how you can discover this part of Hidden San Diego.
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Of all the footbridges found in Banker's Hill, the Spruce Street bridge is by far the most unique and the best. Why? Because it's a suspension bridge - the kind of bridge that sways with the weight of those crossing it. Built in 1912 and designed by Edwin Capps, this special bridge which spans Kate Sessions Canyon is one of those secrets that you just have to share after discovering it.
The only bridge of its type in San Diego County, this 375-foot steel suspension bridge is almost inconspicuous as you walk west along Spruce Street just west of First Avenue. As you start crossing, you realize the bridge actually bounces, then sways as you continue walking. It's a little scary, and way cool. A real treasure.
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One of the few remaining trestle bridges in San Diego County, the Quince Street bridge was built in 1905. The 236-foot long bridge spans Maple Canyon and connects Fourth and Third avenues. Originally built for $805, the bridge suffered from dry rot and termites and was slated for demolition in the late 1980s.
The bridge, which offers a great view of the canyon 60 feet below and the city skyline, was deemed a city landmark and was given a second. It re-opened in 1990 after a $250,000 renovation, still retaining 30% of its original wood. It's a classic wood trestle neighborhood landmark.
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Some of us remember when there was a huge Sears Roebucks store in Hillcrest for years. And just behind the store was a wood trestle footbridge behind the store that spanned busy Washington Street and connected Hillcrest and University Heights along Vermont Street on either side. Built in 1916, the original structure was destroyed in 1979 because of rotting timbers.
In 1995, a new, steel bridge was built and it incorporated public art with laser cut panels of pictographs and quotations. The Sears is long gone, and in its place is the popular Uptown residential and retail complex. Now a trek across the handsome bridge from University Heights takes you right to Trader Joe's.
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While most of the Hillcrest/Banker's Hill footbridges are hidden gems unbeknownst to most San Diegans, one of them is an especially hidden secret. The Upas Street footbridge isn't as readily known, even to residents in the immediate neighborhood around Balboa Park. But it is well worth seeking out.
Why? Because the bridge connects the meandering bridal trail that winds throughout the Park. The dirt trail is used by hikers, joggers, and riders along some of the most idyllic and scenic areas of the Park. Built in 1946, the bridge spans Cabrillo Canyon across State Route 163 connecting the trail near Upas Street on the Sixth Avenue west side of the Park. Note: it is advised to avoid crossing this bridge at night due to its isolation.