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The incredible shrinking bridge guardian. (Lydia DePillis)

It’s been operational for a few months now, but I crossed the 9th Street bridge for the first time yesterday. I was struck by the attempt at adornment: Four smallish eagles perched on spheres, their wings outstretched, without even the wingspan of your average eagle. It’s a fine specimen of a bridge, and they obviously could have skipped the ornamentation altogether, but it’s still a far cry from the muscled lions, stylized horses, and charging buffaloes that grace the District’s other human-scaled bridges. If that isn’t a sign of American decline, I don’t know what is. (Although this is in the works for the New York Avenue bridge, so perhaps we’re not doomed after all).