The railroad tracks have been here a long time, at least since 1937, when they came to California from Tennessee.
They were hammered down through orange groves and alongside citrus packing facilities.
They are still here, near Raymer and Sepulveda, in an inhospitable place, now settled with high security storage containers, barbed wire fences, metal recyclers, auto repair, and a crooked, concrete-walled river surrounded and imprisoned by tall, spiked iron.
At sunset, when the heat has broke, on a summer evening, you may come up here and trespass, viewing Van Nuys from its backside, learning its ways by seeing it in its golden gruesomeness. If any planner had sought intentionally to build monstrosities that defy humane and civil urbanity, he could do no better than emulate this dystopia.
Raymer Street Bridge is a pedestrian bridge, perhaps the world’s ugliest, deformed and graceless, a steel structure reeking of urine and feces, trashed with discarded beer bottles and marked with violent paint in glowing hues. From atop the bridge at late day, the panorama of hazy mountains and the valley are at last tamed into something soft, artistic and implausibly romantic.
Young friends, or lovers, skateboarders and strollers, they come here to talk and to kiss, to ride their boards on the glass-sharded concrete; to ponder and dream in a landscape where nothing is ennobling or spiritual. They are defiant in their gentleness, renewing love and humanness, while all around them, an indifferent, mean and feared section of Los Angeles tells them, in so many words, welcome to hell.