The location of the Los Angeles bridge that figures in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’s “Under The Bridge” has remained a mystery throughout the 20 years since the song’s release. But now, after a process of careful inference, writer Mark Haskell Smith claims to have pinpointed the structure.
“Under The Bridge” depicts frontman Anthony Kiedis grappling with his drug addiction. In his autobiography, Scar Tissue, Kiedis explains that on the day described by the song he was “downtown with fucking gangsters shooting speedballs under a bridge.” Smith consults maps, guidebooks and even ex-junkie friends in pursuit of this bridge, but it is only by heading out on foot that he finally finds it.
“I walked down Sixth, past Union Street, and made my way into the park,” Smith explains. Reaching MacArthur Park, he was confronted by a pedestrian bridge and discovered that “not that long ago it was the stomping ground of gangbangers and dope slingers.” According to Smith, this “must be the bridge in the song,” and he reasons as follows: “It links Sixth and Union — the intersection Kiedis claims he was walking toward [in his autobiography]— with the drug dealers at Seventh and Hoover. And, unlike the other bridges, it provides a discreet location for private time with personal demons.”