THE URBAN RUINS of the Yesler Trolley Viaduct in Leschi Park frame a leisurely scene of cyclists cruising up and down Lake Washington Boulevard South.

To the naked eye, the iconic bridge might appear as a solid unit, but the triangular shape adorned with embossed arches is just a decorative wall. Its original purpose: to cover the cable trestles of a rail line that operated between Pioneer Square and Leschi from 1888 to 1940. (I had to walk the park trail that leads to the top of the bridge to realize that!) The Yesler-Leschi cable car line was an important link between the steamers arriving at Colman Dock and the ferries that operated in Lake Washington until floating bridges made the journey by car faster. 

It’s easy to get nostalgic about relics like this old bridge. If the Yesler rail line had not been dismantled, classic cable cars might still be running across the scenic boulevard as they do from Powell Street to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

Instead, we can marvel at the old viaduct as a graceful curiosity from a different era that nicely blends with the landscape and surely gives cyclists a landmark to look forward to as they glide downhill toward the lake.