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Los Angeles - Page 3

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Route 66

 

With advent of automobile traffic in the early 1900's, Los Angeles really began to grow as people sought its many job opportunities and fair weather. In no time, the fledgling city began a romance with the automobile that continues through today. By the 1920's cars had become cheaper and filled southern California's early roads, putting the streetcars out of business and severely cutting into the profits of the railroads. But, traffic congestion soon threatened to choke off the city's development and urban developers began to build roads. Into this mix, Route 66 was commissioned in 1926 -- that fit right with Los Angeles' plans. Little did they know how fast their city would grow, demanding hundreds of new roads and highways to accommodate the thousands flooding to the Golden State. Over the years, the metropolitan area's piece of Route 66 would change dozens of times.

 

The original 1926 route followed Colorado Boulevard from Pasadena, to Fair Oaks Avenue, Huntington Drive, Mission Road and North Broadway to 7th Street (US 101), where Route 66 officially ended. The heart of the city, 7th and Broadway was a bustling place then and even more so today. Still, the area provides a large array of 1920's and '30's architecture, including movie theatres, cafes, and business buildings that speak of an earlier time.

 

 

Broadway Street in Los Angeles at the turn of the century.

Broadway Street in Los Angeles at the turn of the century.

This image available for photographic prints and downloads HERE!

 

 

 

Called the Historic Core of the city, the area had its heyday from the late 1890's to the early 1930's. Like the rest of the nation, it eventually deteriorated and many of the buildings were abandoned as people moved to the suburbs. However, with the help of several preservation groups over the lat 25 years, "old downtown Los Angeles" has been rediscovered and one by one, a number of historic buildings are being restored and converted into loft apartments, business buildings, galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. Today, this colorful district boasts the the largest unbroken string of pre-1931 buildings in North America.

Roxie Theatre, downtown Los Angeles, CaliforniaThe area is often called the Broadway Theatre and Shopping District because of the many art deco movie palaces and stores that line the busiest street in Los Angeles. At one time, Broadway had the largest display of neon signs in the world. Though that is no longer true, a number of movie theatres and office buildings are undergoing restoration and conversions and the neon signs are making a big comeback. While you're here check out a few of these historic places: The Los Angeles Theater at 615 S. Broadway is the last and most extravagant of the ornate movie palaces built on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles between 1911 and 1931. The Orpheum Theatre also continues to entertain the public at 842 S. Broadway, and look for the vintage neon signs of the Roxie between 5th and 6th Streets, the Rialto at Broadway and 8th, United Artists on 9th Street, the Palace Theatre at 630 South Broadway, and numerous others.

 

While you're in this area, you won't want to miss the Grand Central Market at 317 South Broadway which has been offering Los Angeleans fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry and fish since 1917. Check out a number of restaurants at the market or head on down to Cole's P.E (Pacific Electric) Buffet at 118 East 6th Street, the oldest continuously operated Restaurant and Bar in the City of Los Angeles. Another choice might very well be Clifton’s Brookdale Cafeteria at 648 South. Broadway, which has been doing a brisk business to Route 66 travelers and locals since 1928.

 

In the meantime, Los Angeles was still building highways, especially as the 1930's dustbowl hit the midwest. Thousands of dustbowl refugees, who had lost their farms or jobs, began to flock into California. By 1934, the drought was the worst ever in U.S. history, covering 75% of the country and severely affecting 27 states. In 1936, alone, some 70,000 refugees flooded Los Angeles prompting the City Police Chief to implement the Bum Blockade, which dispatched 136 LAPD  officers to control the borders of Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon to keep out "undesirables."

 

In 1936, Route 66 was re-commissioned to extend to Santa Monica and Los Angeles was still building roads to keep up with influx of all of its new residents. By December, 1940, the city dedicated the Arroyo Seco Parkway, which became the new alignment of Route 66 from Pasadena to Los Angeles and the first "freeway" in the United States. Later it became known as the Pasadena Freeway and Highway 110. In 2002; however, it was designated as a National Scenic Byway and its name officially changed to the Arroyo Seco Historic Parkway.

 

Arroy Seco Parkway in Los Angeles, California is also Route 66

Arroyo Seco Parkway in 1941.

This image available for photographic prints and downloads HERE!

 

The parkway today, not only has some beautiful scenery and is the quickest route from Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles, but travelers beware -- it also has more wrecks than any other freeway in the city. When originally designed it was obviously intended for slower speeds with plenty of curves to enjoy the scenery. The curves, coupled with short entrance and exit ramps can often cause back-ups and wrecks on the highway. For maximum enjoyment, avoid peak commuter hours in the morning and late afternoon.

 

The parkway begins off Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena. The Fair Oaks off-ramp leads directly into downtown South Pasadena which provides a number of quaint shops and restaurants and an opportunity to see the 1915-era Fair Oaks Pharmacy and the 1925 Rialto Theatre. The parkway continues, providing beautiful views of the san Gabriel Mountains before winding through a chain of small parks and craftsman-era bungalows in the Highland Park neighborhood.

 

You'll soon pass through a historic stretch with several potential stops on your way to downtown Los Angeles including the Southwest Museum, the Lummis House, the Audobon Nature Center at Debs Park, Heritage Square, and the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens. As you near downtown other interesting side trips present themselves to Dodger Stadium, Union Station, Elysian Park, Chinatown, and the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument.

 

Continue on to downtown Los Angeles to see the many historic buildings in the city center. To continue your Route 66 journey, return to the parkway and exit at Sunset Boulevard to move on through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.

 

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated March, 2015

 

 

Also See:

 

The Bum Blockade – Stopping the Invasion of Depression Refugees

 

Los Angeles Area Slideshow:

 

 

All images available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

 

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From Legends' General Store

Route 66 Books from Legends' General StoreRoute 66 Books - Legends of America and the Rocky Mountain General Store has collected a number of Route 66 Books for our Mother Road enthusiasts. As great as Route 66 is, if you aren't armed with a few good tools on your journey, you'll miss great attractions, eateries, places to stay, and wind up on the wrong path. To see this varied collection that includes "how-to" books, travel guides, photograph books, attractions, and more, click HERE!

Route 66 Books from Legends' General Store

 

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