To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at email@example.com
Monday, March 17, 2014
They Moved Mountains (And People) To Build L.A.’s Freeways
was the nightmare scenario L.A.'s transportation authorities warned of
when a construction project shut down a critical stretch of freeway for
an entire weekend in July 2011. Gridlock. The glow of brake lights. The
overwhelming angst of a city denied its full and unimpeded access to its
freeways. In the end, the public outreach built around that ominous
term worked. Motorists stayed home, and life went on as normal. A few
wags even staged a "dinner party" on the deserted freeway.
possible that all the dire warnings and clever pranks obscured a more
troubling possibility: that Carmageddon had already come to pass decades
ago, in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s, when Los Angeles scarred its
landscapes, split its communities, and displaced a quarter-million
people to build its 527-mile freeway system.
Building the 405's Gorge
Santa Monica Mountains—a low but rugged range that divides the San
Fernando Valley from the rest of Los Angeles—highway engineers
essentially tore Sepulveda Canyon
apart and then rebuilt it to allow the San Diego Freeway (I-405, or
"the 405" to Angelenos) to pass through. Beginning in August 1960,
earthmovers carved a gorge 1,800 feet wide and 260 feet deep through the
mountains, accomplishing in two years what might take natural erosional
forces two million. The bulldozers' total haul: 13 million cubic yards
of slate, shale, and dirt. Workers then built massive retaining walls to
keep the unnaturally steep slopes from slipping and reconfigured the
area's natural drainage through a series of culverts. By 1962, an
eight-lane concrete freeway with a maximum grade of 5½% sliced through
No area was more affected than L.A.'s Eastside, where transportation planners
routed seven freeways directly through residential communities.
Starting in 1948, bulldozers cleared wide urban gashes through the
multiethnic but mostly Latino neighborhoods of Boyle Heights, Lincoln
Heights, and East L.A., demolishing thousands of buildings and evicting
homeowners from their property. And the freeways didn't just displace
people and businesses. They balkanized the community, making strangers
out of neighbors and discouraging urban cohesion. A freeway can be an
intimidating thing to cross on foot.
did fight back, flooding public meetings and picketing construction
sites. But unlike the mostly white and politically powerful
neighborhoods that killed plans for a Beverly Hills Freeway, L.A.'s
Eastside couldn't stop the bulldozer. By the early 1960s, all seven of
the planners' freeways crisscrossed the community.
Five of them tangled together at the East Los Angeles Interchange.
Built to provide northbound motorists with a bypass around central Los
Angeles, this imposing (and for drivers, often confusing) complex of 30
bridges occupies 135 acres of land—including part of once-idyllic Hollenbeck Park.
At the time of its completion in 1961, it was the largest single
project ever undertaken by the state's division of highways. Yet
somehow, despite its grand scale and enormous cost, the interchange—like
much of the freeway system—is often paralyzed today with traffic, as a
procession of trucks and automobiles crawls along the old urban scars.
wide swath of bulldozed land between West Los Angeles (left) and
Sawtelle (right) seen here in 1957 became the Santa Diego Freeway. The
street crossing at a slight diagonal in the center of the photo is Santa
Monica Blvd. [USC Libraries - Los Angeles Examiner Collection]
of the Hollywood Freeway (here, CA-170) extension through the San
Fernando Valley in 1965. In this view looking south toward central Los
Angeles, Victory Blvd. is labeled "2" and Laurel Canyon Blvd. is labeled
"1." [Herald-Examiner Collection - Los Angeles Public Library]