A Rattler Over Tucson’s Broadway
TUCSON – The Diamondback Bridge in the Old Pueblo can probably lay claim to a variety of different titles — “the world’s longest rattlesnake,” “the world’s largest rattlesnake” and even “the world’s most artistic use of steel floor grating.” The pedestrian bridge is 300 feet long, 16 feet high, 16 feet wide, and it spans Broadway, one of the city’s major traffic arterials. It’s the creation of Tucson artist Simon Donovan, who observed that “the proportion of the bridge seemed to be perfect for depicting a large snake.” And so he made one.
Donovan rolled steel grating into a vaulted form to shape the snake’s body, then painted it the proper colors. Pedestrians can enter through either end. The mouth is fully agape, supported by two iron beams that look suspiciously like fangs, and the fiberglass eyes light up at night. At the other end, there’s a huge rattle which, when functioning properly, is controlled by an electronic eye that catches the movement of a passerby and creates that unearthly sound made by an aroused serpent.
The snake’s mouth is in Iron Horse Park at First Avenue and Tenth Street. Don’t be afraid to use it, but if you’re going to whistle while walking through it, choose some song other than “Fangs for the Memories.”