A million dollar project has been proposed by Friends of Balboa Park to restore a bridge on city property that many residents may not even know existed.
“It was formerly known as the Rustic Bridge or the Palm Canyon Bridge (Balboa Park), and it has since been referred to as the Honeymoon Bridge,” Chair of Board of Directors of Friends of Balboa Park, David Marshall said. “We’re not sure where that name came from, but there are stories about newly married couples who would cross the bridge on opposite sides and meet in the middle for good luck.”
Some say the story behind the name of the bridge is a myth.
Executive Director of Friends of Balboa Park, John Bolthouse added, “This is a myth that has been passed along from source to source, and these are reliable sources, but they are quick to emphasize that it is an urban myth. Don’t know if it’s true or not, but it has given it the unofficial name of the Honeymoon Bridge.”
The bridge was designed in 1935 by California Architect Richard Requa, and taken off of the Balboa Park map by 1956, assuming that its disappearance occurred sometime in the 1950s. The reason why the Honeymoon Bridge disappeared is still unknown, according to the San Diego History Center.
“We haven’t found any articles on why the bridge was taken down,” Marshall said. “There is no documentation. We think it is because it was built out of wood. Probably the termites had a fun time with it over the years, and they didn’t have the money to maintain it so they decided to remove it.”
Friends of Balboa Park is aiming to launch a fundraising campaign to bring the bridge back to Balboa Park.
“Friends of Balboa Park rediscovered the bridge about three years ago and said, ‘you know what, let’s seriously look into this,’ ” Bolthouse said.
Friends of Balboa Park hope to get the bridge back up by 2020 or 2021, at a cost of around $1.3 million. According to the organization’s website, there are currently 38 donors for the upcoming project. “So far, in these very early stages of the project, we’ve raised just over $40,000 for this project,” Bolthouse said.
“This is exclusively being driven by philanthropic dollars,” Bolthouse said. “Certainly we will welcome any support that we might get from municipalities, whether federal, state, or local level.”
“Friends of Balboa Park is always interested in helping restore the park, bringing back amenities, and keeping them operating,” Marshall said. “This is a feature that not many people know about, but when you see pictures of it you really fall in love with it.”
Today, the only remains of the bridge are the stone structures from the original structure located on the south and north side of Palm Canyon in Balboa Park. The original bridge was 137 feet long, and built out of wood. Friends of Balboa Park plans to make the new bridge resemble the original one.
“It’s well documented in photographs, and we even have the original drawings in the San Diego Central Library,” Marshall said. “So with that information and with the funding we’re hoping to raise, we can build it faithfully back to the way it was, and also make it wheelchair compliant which the original bridge was not.”
Bringing back a piece of history to Balboa Park has park-goers excited for this upcoming project.
“I think any improvement to the park is good. I like that they are putting something back that was there originally,” said park visitor Mary McNaughton.
Bringing back a piece of history to Balboa Park is a goal that the Friends of Balboa Park is dedicated to achieve.
“We will make it happen,” Bolthouse said.
This report was a collaboration between NBC 7 and the SDSU School of Journalism and Media Studies.