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Al Bahr Bridge
Al Bahr Bridge

Historic Bridges of La Jolla California

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Tip of the Week: August 22, 2009


"We're concerned that there's a lot of hidden back roads that are hard to get to. We don't know what's back there until we can get there."
- Matt Snorton -

"The Bridges of Madison County" reminded people of the romanticism of old bridges and our affinity for them. In America, we want to bridge budget gaps and bridge political divides. Who doesn't know that London Bridge IS falling down? That's another story for another fine city. There's just all sorts of bridges and references to bridges in our daily life.

We, at the corporate worldwide headquarters of San Diego Travel, tend to make references to the lesser known, but special bridges that haven't had much glory or fame, much less interest.

About four weeks ago, we hinted that there are some additional finds up on the windy roads of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla. La Jolla is filled with hidden morsels of an adventurer's delight. We'll guide you to the secret bridges of La Jolla. Though seemingly a bit out of place or time, these neat, old and narrow bridges timestamp a period in La Jolla's history and add to the exclusive landscape of La Jolla.

Remember, that secret spot in La Jolla Heights? There's actually a lot going on up in those hills, but they don't make it easy for the casual curious to figure it all out. We've got a few surprises for you.

Let us acknowledge that there has been a long-standing urban legend about "Munchkin Houses" or "Midgetland" of La Jolla in the general area of La Jolla Heights. As the legend goes, the 'Munchkin Houses' were supposed to be two houses for the 'little people' of the Wizard of Oz.

Here's the quick and dirty on that legend. Ready? The legend is not true. At one time, there were four cottages in all. The houses that were considered to be "Munchkin Houses" did exist. Two were at 7445 and 7447 Hillside Drive and built by famed architect Cliff May for Violetta Horton. Unfortunately, and disappointingly, one house was removed and the other obliterated. Today, there is an empty dirt lot that awaits development where once there was such charm. However, there is one Munchkin House still standing down the street at 7477 Hillside Drive. The house numbers get tricky. The whereabouts of the fourth house remain a mystery. As you can see, the original architecture of these homes created an optical illusion that made it seem like the legend was true. Treasures like these should be preserved. Okay. We said it.

Back to the bridges. Now, because of the "Munchkin" legend the small, hidden bridges of La Jolla were given the moniker of "Troll Bridges" and you can see how that took off. These old, sweet finds were actually bridges that served the community and one has historic designation, Al Bahr Bridge.

By now, your curiosity should be piqued. We'll lead you back up to Torrey Pines Road to Exchange Place, turn left on Exchange Place heading southeast. There will be a fork in the road when Exchange Place becomes either Country Club Drive on the right or Soledad Avenue on the left. You're looking for Soledad Road. Follow Soledad Road to Al Bahr Drive. It comes up quickly. STOP!

Note: Have a look to your left just before turning right on Al Bahr and you'll see an interesting 1915 green Asian-Craftsman house. Surprise number one. It's just an interesting find but we didn't find any historic designation...yet.

Now, just as you are about to make the the right turn onto Al Bahr, look straight ahead and up on the hill and you'll see a tiled dome structure. Can't miss it. It will seduce you. It got us. Want a sneak peek at what $15.5 million dollars will get ya? You can see the house on Soledad Avenue and also on Kearsarge Road (which you'll bump into off Crespo.) Um.. that's how big it is.. .it has two street addresses - upper and lower. That was surprise number two.

Note: Proceed with caution on these narrow roads and expect to share the road with neighborhood vehicles.

Let's get back to the right turn on Al Bahr Drive. Once you've made the right turn, follow Al Bahr for a few seconds and you'll find surprise number three, the Al Bahr Bridge (Historic). There, amongst these hillside homes, is an arched bridge looking like a "mini-me" of the Cabrillo Bridge in Balboa Park.

Don't you love wild goose chases? They don't get much better than up in La Jolla. Once you have found Al Bahr Bridge and followed the hairpin turn, you'll make a right on Crespo Drive. Make a right on Crespo and follow until it becomes Soledad Drive again. Continue until you get to Hillside Drive. Make a right on Hillside Drive and a right on Castellana Road. Follow Castellana to find surprise number four. You'll be driving right under another old bridge. Follow the Castellana's hairpin turn to Puente Drive. "Puente" in Spanish means bridge. Turn right onto Puente Drive and you'll be at a special spot. The Puente Drive bridge offers a great view in a setting that is befitting some exotic location. Puente Drive is a dead-end. You can turn around just a few feet away.

We bet you'll want to troll around more, but if you need to get back from whence you came, turn the car around, go back across the bridge and make a right back onto Crespo and continue down the hill past the Al Bahr Bridge, again, and out to Soledad Avenue, Exchange Place and Torrey Pines Road. Tah dah!

We've been on a mission to bring "Sunday Drives" back. So many of us remember them. Mom, Dad, kids, and dogs jumped into the old station wagon with nowhere in particular to go. We hit the roads and made discoveries along the way that opened our minds and exposed us to new things in our familiar surroundings. In one small area of La Jolla, there's so much waiting to be found just around the corner, just around the bend.

·  Secrets of La Jolla California
·  Historic Steel Bridge in San Diego County
·  Foot Bridges in Central San Diego
·  San Diego Coronado Bridge
·  Spruce Street Suspension Bridge

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