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Fifty-Eight Years Ago Today: Hollywood Freeway Opens Through Downtown

By Eric Richardson
Published: Saturday, December 27, 2008, at 10:32AM
Hollywood Freeway Opens in 1951 USC Digital Archives / Los Angeles Examiner [digarc.usc.edu]

Cars travel over the newly opened Hollywood Freeway on December 27, 1950.

On December 27, 1950, civic leaders made their speeches and welcomed the first vehicles onto the Hollywood Freeway through Downtown. The first link of the highway, now known as the 101, stretched from Grand Avenue to Silver Lake Boulevard and cost $13,000,000.

Construction of the highway spelled the end for several pieces of Downtown history. The route cut through Fort Moore Hill, site of the Los Angeles High School. The school originally opened at Broadway and Temple in 1873, and was moved to the Fort Moore site. As construction of the freeway loomed closer, various interests fought to move the historic building to a nearby site, but the school board eventually voted to raze the structure instead.

The Broadway tunnel also found its end come with the construction of the freeway. The razing of Fort Moore Hill and the cut of the freeway brought the new roadway into the path of Broadway. That tunnel, which opened in 1901 -- the same year as the Third Street Tunnel -- was 760 feet long and 40 feet wide. It was closed on June 2, 1949.

It didn't take long for the newly opened freeway section to get into the Los Angeles spirit. An article in the Times on December 29 talked of "traffic jams" on the roadway's first day in operation. At more free-flowing times, five motorists were ticketed for speeding and one youth was cited for riding a bicycle on the auto-only right-of-way.

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