First the state Legislature, through a resolution offered by Assemblyman and former Pasadena City Council member Chris Holden, named a portion of the Foothill (210) Freeway in honor of baseball legend Jackie Robinson.
Next, state lawmakers followed the lead of Sen. Anthony Portantino and named a portion of the Ventura (134) Freeway in honor of former President Barack Obama, who attended a year of college at Occidental College in nearby Eagle Rock and once lived in Pasadena.
Now, thanks to Pasadena City Council member Steve Madison, the “handsome small sister of the Colorado Street Bridge,” as it was called at its opening in 1914, will be renamed in honor of Pasadena native and former state Attorney General John K. Van de Kamp.
On Monday, the council voted unanimously to rename the bridge in honor of Van de Kamp, who died in March at the age of 82. The bridge, which had been closed for seismic retrofitting, will be reopened on June 24 with a special ceremony commemorating its new name.
Van de Kamp, a 1952 graduate of John Muir High School and heir to the Van de Kamp baking fortune, was appointed US Attorney in Los Angeles by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966 and later served as LA County District Attorney. In 1982, he was elected California Attorney General, a position in which he served for eight years.
In 1990, he ran for the Democratic nomination for governor against now-US Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein ultimately won that race but lost to Republican Pete Wilson. In later years, he became an outspoken critic of capital punishment.
Despite Van de Kamp’s accomplishments, some locals opposed changing the name of the bridge in his honor.
“This is not a ‘new’ bridge, per se, but one which the city went through extraordinary measures to keep,” resident Amy L. Murphy wrote in an email to the council. “I believe the name of the bridge is part of that historical relevance and value and should not be so quickly brushed aside for this naming opportunity.”
The 378-foot-long landmark was built over the Arroyo Seco in 1914, one year after the Colorado Street Bridge was completed. The La Loma Bridge played a significant role in the development of Pasadena west of the Arroyo, particularly in the San Rafael Heights area, which Pasadena annexed at the same time the bridge was constructed.
The bridge, which sits over the Raymond fault line, was shut down in 2015 for seismic retrofitting.