Built for Love
Efforts to reconstruct Balboa Park’s “Honeymoon Bridge”
Posted February 1, 2019
There are tales of sweethearts who met on Balboa Park’s Palm Canyon Bridge, a wooden footbridge designed by the eminent architect Richard Requa that opened the first year of the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. Lore has it that from that year until its removal in the 1950s, the bridge was a popular spot for lovers and fondly referred to as Honeymoon Bridge. A walk on the bridge may have promised happy marriage, while the stairs to the bridge, which are still there, as are the bridge’s original concrete and stone abutments on each side of the canyon, were thought to lead to marital bliss. Just imagine the marriage proposals, promises, and vows of eternal love.
At 137 feet in length, the bridge connected Alcazar Garden with the International Cottages. Built completely of logs, the structure itself was quite interesting, incorporating whimsical elements such as mission-style bells with green glass hung from shepherd’s hooks, providing light. Beckoning was a wooden walkway through the canyon, a two-acre garden resplendent with more than 450 palms of myriad species, most of which were planted for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. There were even Mexican Fan palms in the canyon that traced back as far as 1912. It all must have been a remarkable — and especially romantic — sight in the multi-hued glow cast by the bridge’s lanterns that were perforated with colored glass beads.
“The Palm Canyon Bridge made available to the public for the first time was one of the most unusual sights in the Park,” Requa himself observed. “From this rustic span may be glimpsed the Exposition towers and domes rising majestically out of a billowing sea of foliage that stretches rustling and cool in all directions.”
Referred to as Rustic Bridge on Requa’s original plans, those drawings are now providing guidance in a current drive to rebuild the bridge. This latest project combines the efforts of the city’s Parks & Recreation Department and Friends of Balboa Park. The public is encouraged to get involved.
Palm Canyon is partially hidden from view and not well known to contemporary park visitors. That is likely to change with the reconstruction of “Honeymoon Bridge,” a mythical story in which love is sure to prevail. 619.232.2282, friendsofbalboapark.org Darlene G. Davies
B&W Photo: Image Courtesy of the San Diego History Center Colored postcard: image Courtesy of David Marshall Postcard collection