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Cabrillo Bridge

The Cabrillo Bridge in San Diego, California, is a historic structure that serves as a grand entrance to Balboa Park, one of the city’s most treasured cultural landscapes. It was built for the Panama-California Exposition of 1915 and stands as a symbol of San Diego’s rich history.

Historical Significance

The bridge was named in honor of the Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who sailed into San Diego Bay in 1542. It was designed by Thomas B. Hunter and was one of the first cantilevered, multiple-arched bridges in California.

Architecture and Design

Cabrillo Bridge is noted for its elegant design, which features a series of arches that create a striking visual as visitors approach Balboa Park. The bridge spans the Cabrillo Canyon and is 1,500 feet long and 120 feet above the canyon floor. The architectural style is in line with the Spanish Colonial Revival that characterizes much of Balboa Park’s buildings and structures, designed by architect Bertram Goodhue for the exposition.

Modern Usage

While originally designed for automobile traffic, the bridge and the road it carries, El Prado, have been occasionally closed to cars for pedestrian safety and special events. It offers pedestrians an excellent view of the park and the downtown San Diego skyline.


The Cabrillo Bridge is located at the west end of El Prado, a long, wide promenade that runs through the heart of Balboa Park. The bridge connects the park with the western part of San Diego, making it a well-traversed gateway for visitors.


As a historically significant structure, the Cabrillo Bridge has been recognized and preserved for its architectural merit. It was designated a San Diego Historic-Civil Engineering Landmark and has been well maintained to retain its original grandeur.

Things to Do

  • Walk across the bridge to enjoy panoramic views of Cabrillo Canyon and the surrounding areas.
  • Take photos of the bridge’s architecture and the scenic vistas of the park and skyline.
  • Visit the nearby museums, gardens, and attractions within Balboa Park once you cross the bridge.
  • Attend one of the many cultural events and festivals that take place in Balboa Park throughout the year.


The Cabrillo Bridge is more than just a means to cross Cabrillo Canyon; it is a historic landmark that offers a picturesque welcome to Balboa Park. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, architecture admirer, or simply a visitor enjoying the park’s attractions, the Cabrillo Bridge is a noteworthy part of any visit to this cultural area of San Diego.

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