Tuesday, September 10, 2019

My Freeway aka The 10

1964. Santa Monica Freeway under construction at La Cienega and Venice Boulevards. Courtesy of the L.A. Times Photo Archive, UCLA Library.

I used to travel the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) from Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles to Cloverfield Boulevard in Santa Monica daily when I worked at HBO. HBO moved from Century City (7 minutes from my house) to Santa Monica 15 years ago.  This is an eight mile trip.  On light traffic days it took me 15 minutes.  On heavy traffic days my drive could last more than one hour each way.  Needless to say, I am delighted to be retired and not making that daily drive. 
I vaguely remember when the Santa Monica Freeway was built, at least the portion that ran south of our neighborhood between Overland Avenue and La Cienega Boulevard.  Most east-west drives during my childhood usually took place on one of the major thoroughfares, Pico, Olympic, Wilshire, Santa Monica Boulevard or Sunset.  We usually took Pico to the Beach by car; Wilshire by bus when I was a pre-teen.  Sunset Boulevard was reserved for our trip to my Grandparents' home in Hollywood.  I even remember going to Palm Springs in the late 1950's primarily on City streets (La Brea Avenue became Hawthorne Boulevard....etc.).
It was a BIG deal when the Santa Monica Freeway could take us all the way to Pacific Coast Highway.  It was like flying to the beach.   I also remember my Dad talking about how so many houses were being torn down along the route of the I-10, mostly in neighborhoods east of us (West Adams to University Park).  Neighborhoods were divided and changed when the freeway was built.  This was definitely progress for our City.  In hindsight, the L.A. Metro system should have been coordinated at the same time!
1962.  Dignitaries and spectators at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the Santa Monica Freeway. Herald Examiner Collection, L.A. Public Library
1965.  California Governor, Pat Brown along with other dignitaries (I spot Tom Bradley and Kenny Hahn) and Beauty Queens at Ribbon-cutting ceremony, Santa Monica Freeway. Herald Examiner Collection, L.A. Public Library

Another momentous time in the history of MY Santa Monica Freeway was in 1994 when the portion of the I-10 near La Cienega Boulevard collapsed during the Northridge earthquake.  This collapse forced people back onto our City streets to traverse town just like the old days!  Thankfully, the I-10 was repaired quickly and back to traffic as usual.

1994.  Civil & Environmental Engineering Department, UCLA

1994.  AP Photo/Eric Draper

Have fun, cruising the freeways!

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